A photograph of an actor posing naked as Christ with a religious painting over his private parts sparked a petition signed by over 40,000 Spaniards who brand it blasphemous, the protesters said Wednesday.
They urged Madrid city hall to ban the work by Spanish photographer Sergio Parras from a municipal exhibition at the national Spanish Theatre.
The offending photograph shows an actor preparing for his role as Christ with a wound in his side and a reproduction of religious masterpiece “Christ Crucified” by the Spanish painter Diego Velasquez covering his genitals.
Conservative religious rights group Mas Libres said it has given city hall a petition signed by 41,600 people protesting at the inclusion of the image in a publicly funded exhibition.
“It is a photograph that offends religious sensibilities, which is a crime under the penal code in Spain,” Mas Libres spokesman Nicolas de Cardenas told AFP.
“Putting a religious image over the genitals is not exactly a pleasant thing for those for whom that religious image has a greater meaning,” he added.
The photograph also sparked complaints last year when it was exhibited outdoors in the central town of Merida. It was removed from that show after protests from Catholic groups.
Madrid city hall said it would not cede to the petition, reiterating recent comments to the media by the authority's arts director Fernando Villalonga, who said the exhibition includes a warning about the photo's content.
“I am not going to take it down,” he said. “I am not going to enter into games of provocation with anyone.”