Far-right cause cancellation of US organist’s concert in France

Protesters from the religious nationalist group Civitas claimed the concert in Brittany was ‘intolerably profane’

The far-right group Civitas said that US organist Ms Malone’s repertoire was “profanatory”
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A US organist who had been due to perform at a French church has condemned protests by the religious nationalist group Civitas that forced her performance to be cancelled.

Kali Malone had been scheduled to perform at a church in Carnac, Brittany, on Saturday (May 13). She had already successfully performed the show at the same church the day before.

However, the show on Saturday night was cancelled after 32 members of the Civitas group blocked volunteers from installing a ticket booth and stopped audience members from entering the church for more than an hour.

The protesters said the concert was “intolerably profane” and should not take place “in this sacred space”. They held banners reading: “Electro concert in a church, what are our bishops doing?” and “My house is a house of prayer”. Some even shouted: “Stop Satan!”.

The protest was attended to by a handful of gendarmerie, who eventually dispersed both the protesters and spectators.

What is Civitas?

Civitas is a traditionalist Catholic group. Politically far-right, it was founded in 1999, and was described as a “religious nationalist, anti-LGBTQ+, and conspiracy” group in a February report by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE). In 2016, it said it had become a political party.

On a now-defunct website, it once wrote that it was a “movement whose cause is the restoration to society of the kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. French historian Étienne Fouillox has called the group “anarchist” and “against the French Republic”.

The week before the cancelled concert, the group had sent a letter to the bishop of Vannes, complaining that Ms Malone’s repertoire contained “several subversive, acoustic pieces”.

It particularly took offence at a piece called Sacer Profanare, which “brings together the Latin words ‘saint’ and ‘profane’”, Civitas said.

‘Very sad’

In a statement, Ms Malone said: “We are very sad about what happened on Saturday evening. We are very grateful that my concert on Friday night at the Saint Cornély [church] was a calm and successful event.”

She also thanked the church’s priest, Dominique Le Quernec, and Carnac mayor Olivier Lepick for their support. She said: “Thank you to our wonderful and respectful audience who remained calm in the face of these far-right fundamentalists.”

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‘Deep respect’ amid ‘obfuscation and fundamentalism’

Ms Malone defended her repertoire, saying that the title “comes from the writings of the philosopher Giorgio Agamben, and was chosen for its poetic value and because it refers to the ideas of a philosopher whose work inspires my reflection”.

She said: “It is always with deep respect and honour [sic] which I enter churches to perform in [sic], where I openly and kindly meet people of all faiths, so we can come together to present moving concerts of my music.”

Mayor Mr Lepick said that it “twisted his guts as much as yours” to cancel the show, but made the decision “in the face of…obfuscation and fundamentalism” and “the risk of violence and damage to the church”.

The performance had been part of a series planned by Ms Malone, which has been supported by the French Ministry of Culture, the Centre des monuments nationaux, and the departmental council.

Ms Malone is not the only artist to have had shows in churches cancelled as a result of Civitas action in recent months.

Others to have suffered the same fate include singer-songwriter and former French Eurovision entrant Bilal Hassani, US singer-songwriter Claud, and the Swedish pipe organist Anna von Hausswolff.

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