Two young women, Maria Alyokhin and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, have been arrested as part of an investigation into an all-female band of activists called Pussy Riot that staged an ‘obscene’ ‘punk prayer service’ at the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow as part of a protest against the election campaign. (By the way, the New York Times has kindly provided another video link with the sound turned off for those readers with tender sensibilities who ‘want to guard their ears against the song’s Russian obscenities’.)

Seriously, I would love to do this in a mosque…

Of course the church has demanded the criminalisation of blasphemy following their protest (surprise, surprise). Also, a criminal case has been opened on hooliganism charges, punishable with up to seven years in prison.

To support the band, follow their Twitter @pussy_riot.

(Link via Adam Barnett)



  1. This is the point where you stop making sense. Would you like it if Christians and Muslims prayed and conducted their religious services in your communist playground. Why invade others spaces? This is why I’m disenchanted with your anti-theism which has a history of violence against religious people in your communist hellholes, it is the equivalent of the Islamist you love to rail against.

    1. It’s about freedom of expression. People often come and try to disrupt my meetings – as long as there is no violence, why not? It’s also fairplay that people will try and disrupt religious ceremonies when they want to bring attention to the wrong doings of the church or Islamism. The group did nothing that was violent. It is in fact the powers that be that are violent not those trying to express their free expression in the few means that are available to them. That you see a group singing in a church as an act of violence says more about you than anything else. And I have never supported those hellholes you speak of, though I’m not sure where you stand on Islamism and religion’s violence against people?

      1. You have just demonstrated your illiberal, intolerant worldview which has been the hallmark of Communist regimes. No liberal institution allows strangers or ideologues to enter its premises to conduct activities that don’t meet its purpose. I hope your liberal supporters know what they’re getting themselves into. As for your question, I don’t support and am fundamentally opposed to Islamism, Capitalism, Communism, Zionism and all such evils. You are yourself an extremist with an agenda wanting to battle other extremists. Good luck with your Communist wet dream, it will never come true.

  2. Imprisoning someone for disrupting a religious service seems a bit absurd to me.

    As far as my understanding of the Russian Orthodox church goes, it’s been indifferent to any real problems and has instead promoted people going on pilgrimages to look at sacred relics as some sort of catch-all solution. It’s bad that members of the church were persecuted in the past, but that doesn’t make anything they believe or think right. If I’m going to compare them to say, the Catholic Church for being slightly better, it’s still not much of an achievement.

    I can’t speak for M. Namazie, but I can speak for myself – if some people I didn’t agree with, like some right-wing thugs interrupted a meeting that I was taking part in, I would not be hoping for jail time for them unless acts of real physical violence or destruction were committed. The last thing I’d want to do is to give them the delusion of being persecuted. The group here just caused a disruption.

    1. I think what they did is a form of free expression. Some might not find the place appropriate but they do and so do I. There is no violence or threats involved – it’s just people speaking out via music and trying to get heard.

      1. Totally agreed. With no harm done to anyone or anything, I have a hard time thinking that there’s anything wrong here.

  3. After watching the brilliant non-festive movie (well, it is easter and I am an Heathen afterall) ‘Agora’ which stars Rachel Weisz last night, I would love to do this in a church.

    The movie, directed by Alejandro Menabar tells the story of the brilliant female astronomer Hypatia who specialised in theorising about spheres and her disciples who fight to save the knowledge of the ancient world as christians go on the rampage.

    A brilliant movie – only slightly adjusted from truth by Hollywood – which I thought some FTB readers may enjoy.

  4. What is increasingly obvious to me is the cries of Islamophobia and Unfair sometimes come from the so called christians who would love nothing more than too plunge us back into the 18th or 17th century. They have been too feeble to bring it about themselves but Lo! there is a new Beast and they will ride its back. All the way to hell (in a handbag)

  5. The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve. The others used many exclamation points. — Buddha

  6. Since you have decided to take on the Philippine Catholics and Russian Orthodox so hard, Maryam, being a Buddhist who appreciates meditation, I’ll play the Devil’s Advocate! Hope you can see some humor in my use of that phrase even if you are so repelled by what I say that you just can’t stand to read what I write! Realizing this may be my last post since you may still throw me off your blog, I will make it my best!
    First, regarding the Catholic, flagelant nuts in the Philippines who went to such extremes to hurt themselves but nobody else, a little perspective is in order. Unlike the Sharia Islamics who practice the murder of others even when also killing themselves, these crazy people went outside dictates of the official, Roman Catholic Church authorities in doing what they did!
    There are over 100 million Catholics in the Philippines and these kind of fanatics are less than 1% of its population! We just wish the Sharia Islamics were less than 1% of the Islamic population of any country!
    Now, as far as your approval of this punk band invading a historic Eastern Orthodox Church property and disrupting its spiritual practices for a political demonstration, it works both ways! Would you or your fellow communists appreciate right-wing protesters disrupting one of your political meetings or messing with one of your organization’s offices? Bet you would be demanding some prison time for those malefactors too!
    It was less than 30 years ago when the KGB communists who agreed with your views on religion would imprison people for religious worship in Russia. In fact the real numbers of Eastern Orthodox faithful directly murdered just for their belief in the Divine was over 15 million people without other political/economic motives which runs another 15 million people killed in the name of establishing a Marxist state in Russia. I think the Russian Orthodox Church has just cause to want to see those who organize planned disruptions of its property and worship to at least spend some time incarcerated!
    The Russian Orthodox are an interesting spiritual culture. They are very traditional yet their culture has a very great tolerance for social nudity. They at least have married clergy who minister to their faithful and have been a developer of great, artistic achievements! Meanwhile, the Sharia Islamics call for whipping the flesh off the bones of nudists and declare fatwas where people like Salmon Rushdie must spend their entire lives in hiding for writing their interpretation of Islamic documents!
    In the last 20 years the ability of Sharia Islamics to exact their vendettas against those they don’t like has increased with their population in European countries! Again, it is no joke when the Sharia Muslims come to kill you! It would not be a joke as you seem to make it toward the Russian Orthodox Church if a rock band tried to do what they did in a mosque as those band members probably would not make it out of the building alive and would have to worry for their lives all their days!
    You are trying to compare a gecko to a python! Let’s live in the real world of today with some real perspective! I would not agree with disrupting the spiritual practices of any group but the activities of the Sharia Islamics are such that they threaten the lives of others and the democratic institutions of nonIslamic countries which gives you your right of free speech as I appreciate you for giving me on this blog!

    1. I agree with you 100%

      Believe in whatever you want, just don’t impose to others those believes and rules of living.

      Also I don’t like the idea of interrupting a religious celebration, a meeting, … for protesting.
      I also know that in some theories of political action sometimes the protests have to be like this – going against the liberties of other people. Then the people who protest must be ready to be judged (by the same democratic society where you can protest without being killed)

      And i love this idea “… any belief system cannot be off-limits. It must be open to criticism and offense”.
      And like this the world changes … and improves in liberty

    2. Has Russian Orthodoxy maintained a belief that Russia is the third Rome? If so it could be a real problem in the future if it regains the status it had under the Czars.

  7. the church has demanded the criminalisation of blasphemy following their protest…

    Oh how I would love to see the church criminalised for crimes againt humanity, or at least the systematic abuse of children (i.e. non-consensual indoctrination).

    Seriously, I would love to do this in a mosque…

    Seriously I would love to see you do that too, but I would fear deeply for your safety. Actually I would love to see all the glorious nude revolutionaries and supporters stage a naked protest in or outside a mosque along the lines of the topfree protesters you posted about recently – I for one would definitely join in as a show of solidarity, and I’m sure many others would also. Sadly though, without overwhelming numbers of protesters involved, that would still be a suicidally dangerous act almost anywhere on earth. One day maybe we will live on a more enlightened, saner and healthier planet…

  8. Someone, I think it was here on Free Thought Blogs a while back, commented how since the fall of the Soviet Union Russia has devolved back into a backwards and superstitious nation. The fact that this is even being considered a crime is ridiculous.

    I’m pretty sure if a large group of Eastern Orthodox faithful showed up somewhere they weren’t welcomed and caused a disruption nobody would be thinking of it as hooliganism.

    Laws against blasphemy and obscenity are largely designed to make sure that you can’t say anything too critical of the status quo, too controversial or too honest.

    1. since the fall of the Soviet Union Russia has devolved back into a backwards and superstitious nation

      Most likely that originally came from Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. He describes the phenomenon most eloquently during a discussion of effective science education. It is a brilliant read, btw – highly recommended.

  9. The Moscow churchmen are probably whining because blasphemy doesn’t carry “burning at the stake” any more.

  10. I told you there are sects of Xianity that are almost as bad as Islam. They only arrested the two girls and want blasphemy charges against them. Humm…. where’ve we seen this before?

  11. I dunno Marayam, first you’d have to find a punk band with no respect for religious authority and little regard for their own personal safety. Where are you going to find that combination? 😉

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