Prague public concert November 17, National Theater

A large choir made up of pupils from schools across Prague performed the rock oratorio, “Eversmiling Liberty” on the steps of the National Theater. This oratorio is based on the “story of Judas Maccabaeus, the leader of Jewish revolt in 167 BC, who stood against the Seleucid Empire and forced Hellenization of the Jews. Judas, together with his army, finally won the battle against the army of his King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who forbade Jewish religious practices in Jerusalem.” This theme resonated with the more recent history of the Czechoslovakian social movement that rejected their externally-imposed system under prophetic leadership. The Czech Ministry of Culture supported this concert.

Several hundred protesters of the group “Autonomous Nationalists,” a right-wing and anti-Semitic nationalist group, crowded the adjacent street, however, and managed to produce concert-disturbing walls of noise through rock music and speeches broadcast over loudspeakers. The group announced its intentions to disrupt the day’s events in advance, and 800 police officers were on hand; the police lined the scene with a cautious eye, attempting to separate the protesters from the concert area. The singers were further challenged by the police helicopter circling above and intermittent rain. The protesters’ noise eventually subsided, as did the rain, and the concert was able to continue.

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