Behemoth frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski is looking to help Polish artists like himself who are being unfairly prosecuted for violating the country’s blasphemy laws.
On Wednesday (24), Nergal launched “Ordo Blasfemia,” a campaign which “will help fund a sustainable legal challenge to squash the existing and incoming bogus prosecutions” artists who don’t “conform to the [country’s] archaic religious laws” face.
In a statement announcing the campaign, Nergal says:
“For over a decade I have been confronted with numerous attempts to permanently destroy my career on the basis that I have harmed ‘religious feelings’. It sounds absurd and I can assure you, it is. Many Polish artists, including myself, have been dragged into court rooms, at our own significant costs, to defend ourselves against nonsensical blasphemy laws made by archaic Politicans. Their intent is to censor anyone who does not conform to the archaic religious laws of our country. The time has come for Polish artists to fight back — join us in the Ordo Blasfemia.”
Donations made to the campaign will go to helping artists’ defense in these cases. “Your donation will help fund a sustainable legal challenge to squash the existing and incoming bogus prosecutions. Help us reach the target so we can distribute to other artists facing their own legal challenges.”
Nergal has been battling various blasphemy violations charges for more than a decade. In 2010, he was arrested and eventually acquitted of “insulting religious sentiment” after tearing up a bible on stage during a show in Gdynia in 2007. In 2018, he once again found himself on trial, this time for creating a merch design that some believed mocked the Polish coat of arms (which he was also acquitted of).
The rocker’s latest run-in with Polish authorities happened earlier this month when he was found guilty of “offending religious feelings” with a photo he posted to Instagram in 2019 that showed him standing on a picture of the Virgin Mary. Nergal was ordered to pay a 15,000 zloty fine along with 3,500 zloty in legal fees (approximately $4980 USD in total). He has contested this ruling, which means his case will now proceed to trial where, under article 196 of Poland’s penal code, he could face “a fine, have his liberty limited, or be deprived of his liberty for a period of up to two years.”
Nergal has since elaborated on the case. In a new interview with the Irish Times, he detailed the levels of harassment he’s gone through, saying:
“I don’t think the public know the details of the level of harassment I have been through. It is getting monstrous, and it is a growing tide of censorship and harassment. Every few weeks I have to check myself in at the police and go for different hearings and spend a fortune on lawyers with all the costs around court cases.”
“I am being the perfect target. The Polish authorities just pick on me. It is not a secret that a prosecution officer has me as his favourite scapegoat. He follows my Instagram account. Can you imagine that? It’s insane and absolutely unprecedented.”
“I am being made a criminal for posting a fucking photograph on Instagram. In Ireland you have been through all this before, but now you are a secular state. Now I give Ireland as an example of what Poland should follow in order to evolve.”
With Ordo Blasfemia, Nergal hopes that what has happened to him doesn’t happen to anyone else. He continues,
“We are going backwards in time, more backward thinking. It is a violation of the most basic human laws. It is not just me. There are different artists being harassed by police and self-proclaimed censors. They forget that Poland is still a pluralisatic country. It is not a Catholic or a totalitarian state. We are a democratic and pluralistic democracy, which means we can say what we want about other religions. The authorities are trying to censor us and shut us down.”
“We can’t be part of the European Union if we are upholding different standards. We have a blasphemy law, and we are the only country in Europe that still holds to that law – and that is insane. That is an excuse for all of those people, all those opportunists. I must win, because we can’t see my case becoming a precedent. People like myself need to be protected to freely express themselves.”
Donations to Ordo Blasfemia can be made at the campaign’s GoFundMe page. It has already exceeded it’s £20,000 goal.