Free Pussy Riot!

BRITAIN LONDON PUSSY RIOT PROTEST

Some of you, I’d like to think most of you, would have heard about the Russian feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot. A year ago, on February 21st, 5 members of the Pussy Riot collective did an impromptu performance on the solace of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The performance of the song Punk Prayer – Mother of God Chase Putin Away was to protest against Vladimir Putin’s government and the links between him and leaders of the Orthodox Church during his election campaign.

As a result of the guerilla performance, 3 members of the group were arrested and sentenced to two years in jail on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. The government emphasized that the group was anti-religion to get the support from the people, as religion is sacred in Russia. Pussy Riot has repeatedly said that the performance wasn’t against Church and that the lyrics Holy Shit in their song were an evaluation of the situation in their country, an opinion, not a blasphemy.

This video amongst others by the group are being ruled extremist in Russia and might soon be banned from the Russian internet!

Now a year after, one of the 3 members was released early but two of them, Maria Alyokhina (24) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (23) are still in prison. Both are young mothers and have requested their sentences to be delayed until their children are teenagers but were refused. They are serving their sentence in remote prison camps.

All of this is happening in the country hosting the winter Olympics in 2014, not a very good example of democracy and freedom if you ask me. Amnesty International has called Maria and Nadezhda prisoners of conscience following the severity of the response by Russian authorities. It is very important to keep supporting what Pussy Riot started and get them out of jail!

Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir organized a 5 à 7 at Divan Orange on February 21st to mark the one year anniversary of Pussy Riot’s performance and incarceration.

The performance included the group’s own version of the Punk Prayer, the lyrics had been put online a few days prior and some of the crowd were singing the whole way through. Most of us sang the chorus Shit! Shit! This is Holy Shit! Pussy Riot’s video of their performance was playing repeatedly on a screen. It was a very powerful experience.

Afterwards, I asked a few questions to Baptiste, the man behind the event.

Q. Why was the event organized?

A. Because I read the lyrics, they are so perfect in supporting Gay pride, feminism, everything I stand for.

Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir is a project that started 4 years ago and has been active for the past year and a half. The idea of the group is to change lyrics of songs while keeping them happy and festive but giving them a deeper message. The song Rainbow in the Sky by Mahalia Jackson was used to talk about gay pride and some of the lyrics were inspired by verses from the Bible.

baron-irreverandIrreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir is based on Gospel. The origins of the Gospel movement were explained during the evening too! Very interesting. The Gospel is there to force people to ask themselves questions about religion – about everything really – the main goal is emancipation, from all your prejudices. Gospel music was born during the period of slavery in the USA. Slaves weren’t allowed to express themselves openly, and had to be docile not showing emotions except on Sundays. On Sundays, they would go to church and be expressive (so long as it was to Jesus). It was a form of liberation. It explains the exuberance you find in Gospel; the crying out, calling and answering. The church goers would scream “Preach” when they heard something the Reverend would say that they agreed with and when it spoke directly to their heart. Allelujah was the word you would hear. Also, since animist drum rituals were obviously banned, the parishioners took to clapping instead. The roots of Gospel are about more than religion, they are about affirmation.

Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir is here for the people who say NO! Who refuse to just go with the fallacies that we are sold today. It is here for the free thinkers and to bring back a sense of community.

It is great to see more and more people waking up and saying No, enough is enough!! Keep it up! Free Pussy Riot!!

Find out more and join the Choir at www.irreverendjames.com

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