I was planning to write a blog post on some joyful encounters with tourists and locals in Paris, but something far more dramatic has occured (oh..well..dramatic) that needs to be written out.
Yes, for the first time, i’m writing out of anger. Anger against religion, deities and the unwillingness to act against abuse of them.

I happen to have a cinema subscription, which means i can hop in and out of my local cinema any time, and watch an unlimited number of movies for a fixed sum per month.  This means i can occasionnally watch very bad movies (after all, you always have to check if the rumours are really true). In this case, i committed the worst offense possible: i went for a Tony Scott movie…about trains. Which is completely besides the point for this story, but what you need to know is that it has a +16 rating (rather incomprehensibly, as all they do in the movie is drive trains, set off some explosions and shout a lot. But anyway…)

What i AM writing about is this: the room was packed with children and young adolescents. At first I thought i had ended up in an advanced screening of Deathly Hallows (part I), but i hadn’t. This really was the right movie, only nobody was sitting in the right room. Between the rows of pimply youngsters, i could still distinguish the anguished faces of adults and elderly couples, throwing uneasy looks at the rest of the rooms’ inhabitants and the front, as if they expected the screen to suddenly light up and show “the jolly adventures of Sean the happy squirrel” instead of an entertaining thriller about uncontrollable trains which don’t run on time (you don’t have to go to the movies to see that, by the way. Just take a Belgian train).

Just to be perfectly clear, I would have traded the Tony Scott movie any time against forestly adventures of a overexcited rodent addicted to hallucinogenic nuts, but it wouldn’t have mattered. By the time the first image of the film hit the screen, half the theatre was running around the room, shouting, screaming and giving a master-class on how to produce artificial rain with bits of popcorn. This went on for about 10 minutes when suddenly, something exciting happened on screen. As soon as this was over, however, everything started over again…

All this time…and i really mean ALL of the time…a security guard was standing in a corner, looking at the screen. Occasionally, some of the little scoundrels started dancing in front of him, throwing bits of popcorn to his face and shouting in his ear without any effect whatsoever… when, in the end, he gave up and left the room. It was right then that a mobile phone flew right past my left ear (at a cm distance or so) and crashed onto the ground.

Now, before I go on, i must really add that this is not the normal situation in an Antwerp, or for that matter, Belgian cinemas. Something was clearly wrong today because a) it looked like a children’s matinee and b) small, heavy Nokia phones can play music, show youtube movies, make coffee and do the dishes, but they cannot  fly.

So i decided to find out what it was, and left the room looking for the missing security guard, whom I found standing at the bar downstairs looking rather pale. When asked if he could come back and intervene, he spoke the magic words:

“Sorry, sir. They’re quite excited because of their religious festival today. The entire cinema (which has 20 theatres) is like this today. I can’t do anything, and anyway, they’re way too many to intervene.”

So…if i get this correctly…a religious festival is enough of an excuse to enter a screening of a movie which i’m not allowed to watch as i’m not old enough, trash a brand new renovated theatre and start throwing pieces of mobile electronics to other peoples’ heads while shouting all the way through a masterpiece of the seventh art…and get away with it because it’s erm…religion? Someone MUST have been reading the wrong codebook while deciphering the holy scripture there…

Don’t get me wrong, though. This rant is not about Islam, neither is it about Eid al-Adha, which happened to occur today. This isn’t even about a particular religion. This is about religion as a system. As a system that’s beyond the law..beyond daily reality and rules. For all I care, it might have been some Hare Krishna followers, rabbis or creationists singing christmas carols in that room hopping up and down in front of the screen. I still would have had them removed from that room. It’s not about that cinema. I don’t care about the cinema. I don’t even blame those kids, who were probably having quite a good time (although ruining a movie, even a miserable one,  is an unforgivable crime.).

It’s about the so-called ‘respect’ you are to have for religion, as if being religious gives you a wildcard to bend the rules and get away with it, to commit murder and get away with it because “it was done out of religious motivation” (i’m not kidding).

It is about a system that tells it’s followers that it spreads morality, wisdom and one true law to live by, but at the same time abuses that power by using it to rape innocent children, start wars and eradicate ‘godless’ people.  It’s about a system that claims to have a monopoly and decision right on everything from humanity, sexual ethics and birth control to the hand you use to write and eat (devlish left-handed people! curse them!), while being as hypocrite to actively enable the spread of AIDS. After all, even ill followers are followers, and the more souls to save, the merrier. Most of the time, a pile of money that can be made out of that is not too far away, either…

And all that because of some holy books and a direct telephone line with some almighty supreme being, master of life, the universe and everything.

Hallucinogenic nuts, no doubt, have something to do with that as well


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