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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 24 November, 2002, 18:00 GMT
Baby devil riles French right
Baby devil
The far Right regarded the advert as blasphemous
A poster for a jazz festival in southeast France has sparked controversy, French television has reported.

The poster for next summer's event in the town of Vienne in the Rhone-Alpes region shows a white baby devil being suckled by a black woman.

The old demons have come back to haunt Rhone-Alpes

Jean-Jacques Queyranne of the Socialist Party
Far right deputies on Rhone-Alpes council said the poster is an attack on the beliefs of Christians, and demanded its withdrawal.

Other right-wing councillors - including those from France's majority Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) - backed the far right on the grounds that the poster is provocative.

They voted on Thursday to withhold a 65,000-euros subsidy for the festival.

UMP official Emmanuel Hamelin explained to France 2 television why conservatives voted against the poster.

"It has touched the religious principles of some elected representatives, and that is what probably sparked off the reaction we are seeing today," he said.

Black virgin

Jean-Jacques Queyranne of the opposition Socialist Party said the vote recalled past alliances between the mainstream and far right.

"We think the old demons have come back to haunt Rhone-Alpes - that is, the National Front (FN), the extreme Right which puts on pressure... and then the UMP which follows", he told the TV.
Jazz musicians
Bruno Thery has done posters for the festival since 1988

"It's really stupefying," he added.

Although the festival is funded mostly by its audience, organiser Patrick Dussenne saw the move as an example of cultural censorship.

"People think what they like about the poster," Dussenne argued. "We never wanted to shock in any way."

But he added there was no question of withdrawing it.

The poster's creator, Bruno Thery, told the Paris daily Liberation it never crossed his mind to paint a "black virgin", as the far right described the mother figure.

Sodomy

Liberation said the right justified its stance on the grounds of tolerance.

"Secularism is respect for all religions," it quoted Mr Hamelin of the UMP as saying.

"We would have reacted in the same way if it had been a question of horns on a Muslim woman," he added.

But some members of the right were unhappy about the vote, one describing the issue as a "storm in a teacup".

He recalled that a gargoyle on the nearby cathedral of Villefranche-sur-Saone represents an imp sodomising a nun.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

01 May 02 | Europe
16 Jul 02 | Music
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