The Philosopher's Eye

News and brain candy for the philosophy community

Pussy Riot – or what is (religious) freedom to you?

ImageFor months and months the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot has dominated the news in various ways. Pussy Riot is an all-female band based in Moscow. The members all wear balaclavas when they are performing, because they are protesting against the Kremlin and against the Putin-led government and were and are afraid of the police arresting them. On March 4th, it has happened. The group performed, on February 21st early in the morning, in the Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow, Christ the Savior, and three members were subsequently arrested. Maria Alyokhina,24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova,22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich,29, spent the last seven and a half month in a prison in Moscow being tried for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Yekaterina Samutsevich was released on appeal, while her two band mates were convicted and sentenced to two years of prison camp respectively. Putin claims that the sentencing was not politically motivated and that he had no voice in the sentencing process. He even goes so far as to claim that he had no knowledge of the group before the video shoot in the Cathedral. This claim seems hardly to be believable. Putin normally knows pretty well what is going on in his country and especially in Moscow and most especially if it involves an entire group of young people, most of them in their twenties and maybe thirties, who are consistently protesting against the government. Moscow claims that the problem with Pussy Riot is not their protest against the government, but the fact that they had voiced such protest in a church, and especially in an Orthodox Cathedral. This behavior, not only protesting in a Cathedral, but naming the song a “Punk Prayer” and performing in front of the altar, has allegedly upset many believers and because of that they had to be punished. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill is a great supporter of Putin and the one who assumes the role of the victim in court. Since I do not believe for a moment that the sentencing was not politically motivated, what I find interesting is the discussion that is going on across Europe, or so it seems, about right and wrong and religious feelings in the case of Pussy Riot. Moscow claims that Russia is a free country and that everyone is allowed to voice their opinion. It is interesting though, that the group decided from the very beginning to perform anonymous, without saying their names or showing their faces. It is also interesting that all of a sudden the Church plays such a significant role again in Russia. Contrary to my initial belief, many Russians seem to endorse the sentencing and therefore also seem to endorse the growing role of the Church in Russia. The overwhelming belief seems to be that the two women, young mothers with small children, deserved what they got and that others should act as a warning that protest involving the Church is not tolerated. Church officials in other countries, one of these being Germany, also said that the women deserved their sentencing because protest in a Church was not allowed and clearly against the law. Interesting! The protests that lead to the end of the DDR were started in a Church and were held and endorsed by ordained priests. Luther, the great protestant reformer, has voiced his criticism of the Church while he was a member, a priest, and a Catholic and during the Second World War courageous priests spoke up against Hitler, in Church, during service and in front of the altar. What is so different about these women? The fact that they are women? The fact that they are young? Or the simple fact that they are very courageous and believe in their cause? How much is freedom of speech worth today and since when does it matter where I enact that freedom of speech?

Further reading:

Article in the independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/vladimir-putin-if-pussy-riot-had-not-broken-the-law-they-would-be-at-home-doing-their-housework-8227325.html

One comment on “Pussy Riot – or what is (religious) freedom to you?

  1. walterdoege
    October 26, 2012

    important issue. Freedom of speech is one human right and need. Free writing, free reading, utmost, free speech and free talk…talk as a free act. Free acts are lovely and ethical cause love grounded. I regard and recognize love as a truth. So, I see also in this narrative a violence against human freedom. Also, a violence against the young women…and atavic fear related to woman existence. This music band suffered discrimination. Music as an expressive art reveals truths, as science and phylosophy do too. The three, phylosophy, science and art is a good trio…and thinking of jazz, these young women did a remarkable performance. In a changing world ethical issues are the most relevant. Contemporary scene is a challenge regarding ethics. A global world reqquires a global human well being for all people. The contemporary scene shows civilization (latu sensu) side by side with barbarism and non sense conditions. Children and elderly people suffer the same violence. Phylosophy can play but with art and science companion. This trio is agreat band and is just making matter regarding the challenge of a health and well being for each and any people i n the world. Phylosophy is not only understanding the world but also changing it. The most important in my comment is place love as a truth. I am a physician, a psychotherapist, a writer and a blogger. Blogging is still and underestimated tool for changing this scene and a lovely ground of buidling and reinventing a better world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 480 other followers

%d bloggers like this: