Christians launch petition against black metal events

Christians in South Africa have sprung a petition called “Stop Promoting Satanism in South Africa”. The petition asks people to boycott venues which will host “Satanic” performers in the South African soil, and it takes aim specifically at The Bassline in Johannesburg and The Assembly in Cape Town. The artists in question? None other than Poland’s infamous Behemoth and Greek Rotting Christ.

Rotting Christ, a Greek ensemble who has been at the forefront of the black metal scene for many years, are no strangers for causing a stir with their name. Back in 1999, the group was accused of being “anti-Catholic” by Christian conservative Gary Bauer. Sakis Tolis, the Rotting Christ frontman, responded by stating:

Living in (so called) democratic societies, I think everyone should have the right to call religions as he/she wants. We in fact simply believe they are “rotting”! We are not a “satanic-crusader” type of band but rather one of the many bands that represent the dark side in nowadays Metal music.

Behemoth, on the other hand, actively use satanic themes in their lyrics and their vocalist Adam Darski explained in an interview with The Guardian that it’s all about Satan being something that is “dear to him”.

For me personally, I’ve always related to antiheroes. In most cases they were scapegoats, martyrs and negative archetypes, tools that were used to make other people into slaves. To me, Satan stands for everything that is dear to me. I’ve always been very fond of independence and autonomy and freethinking and freedom and intelligence. Satan has always been a very strong symbol of all those values, so for me it’s very natural to take his side.

Well, that is obviously going to upset a few people. Anyway, the bands are being brought to South Africa by Witchdoctor Promotions. The Production company has always been at the forefront of the South African metal scene, but this is not the first time they have run into protest from Christians.

Chanel24 reports that in April last year they had three venues cancel on them and sponsors pull out due to pressure from certain groups which led to a 10,000 capacity event turning into a 1,200 event.

Behemoth South African 2016 Tour
Behemoth South African 2016 Tour

The initial idea for the event, titled Witchfest, was an outside open air festival to accommodate up to 10,000 people, but after venues and sponsors had pulled out, the festival ended up taking place at a single venue, The Bassline in Johannesburg, accommodating only 1,200 people. This due to ticket sales being far less than originally planned, and all of the sponsors pulling out, this resulted in the loss of funds.

The fellas from Witchdoctor Productions have now started an Indiegogo campaign to try and recoup some of the money that they personally had to invest in the festival to make it happen and to ensure that Witchfest becomes an annual event.

The campaign states that Witchdoctor Productions had a dream to bring a metal festival to South Africa. An opportunity to grow the already thriving scene. Create jobs. Give the local metal bands a much-needed platform, and share the beautiful country and love for music with some of the world’s biggest names in metal. From various societies, they have been bullied, terrorized and ultimately, attacked.

During this year, their venues were shut down three times, which has had a massive impact on them financially, as they have no sponsors willing to associate their brand with metal and while they refuse to be intimidated, and have fought with every strength to continue with this project, they are truly in need of help so that they can ensure their continuation.

Either way, Witchdoctor Productions succeeds to overcome its difficulties and keeps struggling against such societies with determination, it is something time will tell.

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