Parents were outraged and children were reportedly traumatized by a recent Carnival puppet show held in Madrid, Spain, that appeared to celebrate terrorism. The puppet show for children reportedly depicted rape, murder, and assassinations, and the show ended with its two creators behind bars on Saturday.
During the puppet show, titled “La Bruja y don Cristóbal” (“The Witch and Don Cristobal”), puppeteers held up a placard reading, “Gora-Alka-ETA,” or “Long live Al Qaeda-ETA,” referring to both the Islamic and Basque terror groups.
The puppet show itself included scenes of the hanging of a judge, two police officers being beaten, the rape and murder of a nun and a pregnant woman being stabbed.
After horrified parents called the authorities and complained about the puppet show, the puppeteers, identified as Alfonso L. de la F., 29, and Raúl G. P., 34, were taken into custody by Madrid municipal police officers.
As reported by El País, the incident was initially played down by the city management, who reportedly “defend the freedom of expression and the right for a society to make social and political criticisms through satire.”
— emma (@emma__gine) February 8, 2016
However, it ended with the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, formally apologizing for the outrage.
Apologizing to all parents involved for “a show that was unacceptable and inadequate for children” and “truly deplorable,” Carmena said at a press conference that she regretted the fact that the puppet show had “marred the Carnival celebrations.”
Reportedly, there will now be an in-depth investigation into the responsibilities of the culture department of the Madrid municipality and the district of Tetuán, where the show was held, for not first checking the content of the puppet show.
However, despite outrage at the puppet show, the Madrid City Hall denies that the controversial puppet show was designed to glorify terrorism. Carmena’s political party, Ahora Madrid, stated that “at no time has City Hall linked what occurred with possible crimes related to exalting terrorism.”
A High Court judge has ordered the two puppeteers held in custody, although the suspects are appealing the decision and asking to be released.
Madrid’s cultural commissioner, Celia Mayer, has filed a complaint against the company Títeres desde abajo, (Puppeteers from Below), but again stressed that said the complaint was not meant to suggest the performances were glorifying terrorist activities.
Madrid cesa el contrato del director del carnaval tras verse un cartel de ‘Gora Alka-ETA’. Ante el juez los actores pic.twitter.com/epa2Zkq9fc
— 24h (@24h_tve) February 6, 2016
Tweet translation: “Madrid will cancel the contract of the Carnival director after seeing a poster of ‘Gora Alka-ETA.'”
Reportedly, the two suspects were due to be paid €1,000 for two puppet shows, but after the controversy surrounding the performance, they received no payment.
As reported by the Local, AVT, a Spanish support group for victims of terrorism, also filed a complaint on Monday against the Madrid Mayor, the cultural commissioner and the puppeteers. In a statement, the anti-terror group said the scenes were “a clear and serious offense to the memory of terrorism victims, an act of humiliation and contempt in which the use of violence is trivialized.”
Referring to the actions of the ETA terror group, AVT said the show implied “praise and recognition of terrorist organizations that have caused such hurt and suffering in our society.”
Reportedly, the same puppet show was seen in the southern city of Granada on January 29, 2016, but apparently no one there was “scandalized” by the showing.
— infoLibre (@_infoLibre) February 8, 2016
ETA has claimed responsibility over the years for the deaths of 800 people but finally renounced violence in the Basque region’s struggle for independence from Spain some four years ago.
Citizens in Madrid continue to mourn the deaths of 191 people back in 2004 when al-Qaeda-inspired bombers blew up four packed commuter trains in the city.
A short excerpt of the puppet show can be viewed in the video included below.
[Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images]