MAY 14 2015 13:33h

Play removed from Dubrovnik Summer Festival programme for security reasons

Michel Houellebecq

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A stage performance based on the novel The Elementary Particles by French writer Michel Houellebecq has been removed from the programme of the 66th Dubrovnik Summer Festival for security reasons, festival director Ivana Medo Bogdanovic confirmed to Hina on Wednesday evening.
 
The performance should have been premiered in July in Kupari, just outside Dubrovnik.
 
The festival organisers received a letter from the Ministry of the Interior saying that the performance would pose a security risk. The security risk assessment had been requested by the county authorities.
 
"The head of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Nikola Dobroslavic, has formally requested a risk assessment from the Office of the President of the Republic and the Government. They dispute the writer of the novel on which the performance is based because of what they see as his bad attitude towards the Muslims and their religion," Medo Bogdanovic said.
 
She stressed that the performance had nothing to do with religious sentiments and that it was about "a lack of love between a man and a woman." She noted that the work was already performed in Paris.
 
Medo Bogdanovic said that she would follow the ministry's order. She said she would try to stage another play with the same actors and director, which would be difficult as the festival was only two months away.
 
The Ministry of Culture said in a brief statement on Wednesday evening that in this case they "cannot ignore the security assessment."
 
Dobroslavic told Hina by telephone he had requested a security risk assessment because residents of Dubrovnik and their guests could find Houellebecq's views on Islam insulting. He said that the writer was connected with the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which was the target of a terrorist attack, stressing that Dubrovnik was always a place of good inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations.
 
Dobroslavic explained that in requesting a security assessment they were primarily concerned about the possibility that the play might offend the religious sentiments of Muslim believers and not about a terrorist attack.