|Controversy and outrage follows American pop singer Madonna to her world-wide ‘Confessions Tour’ where she is “crucified” on a cross on stage. The act has sparked anger from various religious groups. In Moscow, she received death threats.
Catholics expressed outrage at Madonna’s decision to be displayed hanging to a cross with a crown of thorns on her head while performing the song ’Live to Tell’. In Rome, the Vatican accused Madonna of blasphemy and provocation when she staged the mock crucifixion there in August 2006. The Catholic Church called for Madonna’s excommunication.
In Moscow, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJC) urged all members to boycott her concert in Moscow on September 12, 2006. They also demanded Madonna’s show banned.
“We will never allow her to desecrate our greatest icons. We demand to drive Madonna out of Russian territory,” Leonid Simanovich-Nikshich, head of a group calling itself the Union of Orthodox Religious Banner Bearers, told about 100 supporters at a central Moscow square on 4 September 2006.
Simanovich-Nikshich and a couple of supporters then speared a portrait poster of Madonna with a wooden pike, ripped it up, tossed the pieces on the ground and stamped on them. Supporters waved flags and banners. “Power to Christ. Death to the Anti-Christ,” one banner read.
Also Muslim leaders have protested against her concert. Nevertheless, 50,000 people bought tickets for her concert in Moscow which had been pushed back a day, due to demands from the municipality, to avoid performing on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Death threats in Russia
All plans for sightseeing and shopping in Moscow were cancelled after a Czech newspaper reported that Russian crime bosses threatened to kill her and her two children. Due to the threats, Madonna decided to stay in hotel during her stay in Moscow, only venturing out to perform at the show, and police security at the Luznjiki stadium in Moscow was stepped up with a presence of 600 police offiicers.
“Madonna is unbelievably nervous and is worried about performing in Moscow. Because of that she wants to get home as soon as possible and doesn’t want to be away a minute more than is necessary,” a source was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. For security reasons her hotel was transformed into a ‘fort’, reported the news agency MosNews.
In Dusseldorf, Germany, prosecutors threatened to open an investigation on charges of insulting religious beliefs over her mock crucifixion before her concerts there. After seeing the performance, however, the prosecutors decided not to open an investigation. They stated that although the performance may be “hurtful to religious people” she is protected by artistic freedom laws.
Bomb threat from priest
In Amsterdam, one week earlier, a 63-year-old Dutch priest confessed to have phoned in a fake bomb threat to the Madonna concert there. Like in Moscow, the cleric was upset about the mock re-enactment of the crucifixion of Christ.According to prosecution spokesman Robert Meulenbroek, “He was hoping to stop her from performing her ‘crucifixion’ act.”
The priest was arrested almost immediately after making the threat, since he used his home phone to make it, and he called an emergency services number where the call was automatically traced. Robert Meulenbroek said it was likely prosecutors would seek a community service punishment for the priest, since it was probably his first offence.
The two concerts in Amsterdam went ahead as planned, despite a handful of protestors.
Forced to edit her videos
Madonna has proven to a highly controversial figure among religious people, inciting debate and attracting accusations of blasphemy throughout her twenty-year career. Once and again she has been forced to edit her music videos to make it suitable for airplay. In 2003 Madonna reportedly self-censored her ‘American Life’ music video, and most recently, the video for her Confessions single ’Sorry’ included a scene where she makes a rude finger gesture that tv-networks refused to air.
In 1989, her hit song ’Like a Prayer’ featured burning crosses and statues crying blood which caused loud protests from the Catholic Church.
Touring the world
Madonna’s 2006 “Confessions Tour” will be the most profitable tour for any female artist ever in history. It includes 60 shows for an audience of 1,2 million (ticket-buying) people in arenas, stadiums and outdoor venues in Paris, Amsterdam, Wales, Rome, Dusseldorf and Hannover in Germany, Horsens in Denmark, and Osaka and Tokyo in Japan, as well as in Chicago, Boston, San Jose, Phoenix, Fresno, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Miami, Montreal and New York in the US. Madonna is the world’s best selling pop artists, with record sales exceeding 200 million copies.