The frontman of Behemoth, an extreme metal band in Poland, was found guilty of “offending religious feelings" after he shared an image of himself in September 2019 standing on a photo of the Virgin Mary. The Warsaw court convicted Musician Adam “Nergal” Darski within only a few days of the charges being brought against him.
As a result, this conviction has become an ongoing court battle as Nergal expects to receive the due process he was denied. Authorities ordered him to pay court costs of PLN 3,500 (Polish zloty) and the penalty fine of PLN 15,000. The total amounts to roughly $5,000 in US dollars. Nergal has refused to plead guilty and is preparing to contest the ruling.
The image he shared online depicts Nergal stepping on a broken framed photo of the Virgin Mary. The guilty verdict against Nergal was shared via Twitter by Jerzy Kwaśniewski, an attorney and the president of Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture. The group is known as ultra-conservative and anti-choice by OpenDemocracy.net.
Regarding the verdict against Nergal for “offending religious feelings,” the Behemoth frontman will oppose the ruling, according to Anty Radio (a Polish radio network). The court’s ruling was dealt to Nergal as a prescriptive sentence, meaning that the court executed the written order without a hearing. According to Jacek Potulski, the musician’s attorney, Nergal’s objection to the judgment “cancels the decision, and the case goes to [the court system] procedure.”
“As you can see, it's a prescriptive sentence. It probably initiates further proceedings. But, in the spirit of the judgments of the Strasbourg Tribunal and the Constitutional Tribunal, I can say that we have put in place penal norms to protect religious peace by rejecting anti-religious hatred,” the attorney wrote. “This is an important change.”
With an Instagram post before this new ruling, Nergal commented:
“Another lawsuit in the process. Reason? In every case, the same offense of RELIGIOUS FEELINGS! Can u imagine this nonsense in XXI Century? Poland is mentally soooo fuckin’ behind the civilized Europe that we r literally THE last bastion of so-called “blasphemy cases.” Even extremely Catholic Ireland removed this paragraph from [the] constitution lately. It WILL happen in Poland at some point … and yea, I’m willing to be that stepping stone. FUCK religious fundamentalism in every fuckin hole. And frankly, I’m sure I will win this and EVERY other case. Just wait and see.”
Nergal has since commented on this latest development via social media, sharing the following post on February 16th:
“Will I let superstition and fundamentalist dogmas capitalize on this and EVERY other case of the same nature? FUCK NO! Nergal has some aces up his sleeve… Just wait and see.”
Nergal is familiar with ‘hurting religious feelings’ in Poland, his native country. In 2007, authorities charged him with blasphemy for shredding a bible onstage while calling it a “book of lies.” He was acquitted of those charges in 2010.
The heavy metal band faced blasphemy charges in 2018. The government attacked one of their merchdise designs, claiming it mocked Poland’s coat of arms. Behemoth released a T-shirt displaying a controversial design that resembled the Polish national emblem. The court later dismissed those charges.
On the morning of Wednesday, February 17th, Nergal posted himself on Instagram wearing a different T-shirt. This one displayed an Overkill “We don’t care what you say” logo with the following caption:
“How’s your “religious feelings” today?… my tee sayz how much I care, my fellow Polish Catho-Talibs.”