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    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    You must be afraid of this head

    The tyranny of public health, political correctness, and the prophet's


    A leading opera house in Berlin, Germany canceled a 3-year-old production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" that included a scene showing the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad, unleashing a furious debate over free speech.

    In a statement late Monday, the Deutsche Oper said it decided "with great regret" to cancel the production of the 225-year-old opera after Berlin security officials warned of an "incalculable risk" stemming from the scene.

    After its premiere in 2003, the production by Hans Neuenfels drew widespread criticism over the scene in which King Idomeneo presents the severed heads not only of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but also of Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha.

    "We know the consequences of the conflict over the (Muhammad) caricatures," the statement said. "We believe that needs to be taken very seriously and hope for your support."

    Kirsten Harms, director of the Deutsche Oper, told the Berliner Morgenpost on Tuesday that Berlin state police had warned of a possible - but not certain - threat, and she decided it would be in the best interest of the safety of the opera house, its employees and patrons to cancel the production.


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