Las Fallas Avoids Mohammed
The great cartoon upheaval of 2006 (or whatever it can be called) stifled free expression in the annual Las Fallas festival, recently concluded in Valencia, Spain:
An annual festival of satire in Valencia has fallen foul of censorship after more than four centuries following the furore over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.So even the evil, fascist, Franco regime or the infamous Spanish Inquisition were not powerful enough to temper the satirical thrust of this centuries-old event, but a few Muslim protestors sent the Spanish running away from freedom of expression? These sculptures, however, passed scrutiny and displayed that "tempered" freedom the mayor of Valencia advocated:
In the Fallas festival, giant sculptures of the high and mighty are placed in the streets for the public to mock before being destroyed in an orgy of gunpowder and flames. It has survived attacks by the Roman Catholic church, various puritanical rulers and the Franco dictatorship.
This year's figures will include President George W Bush, several of the Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and the Prince of Wales dancing, in Highland dress, with the Duchess of Cornwall. But self-censorship has seen Muslim and Arab figures modified to avoid offence.
The Fallas season is now underway until March 19 but as it approached, Valencians watched global protests against newspaper cartoons of Mohammed with growing alarm. Last month, the mayor, Rita Barberá, urged artists to "temper freedom with a sense of responsibility" when referring to religious subjects.