A metal festival in Georgia has been shut down 30 minutes after it began, after a group of ultraconservative Orthodox Christian priests and activists converged on the event over the weekend.
As Georgia Today reports, several priests led dozens of people to JAM Fest in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Saturday night, where they reportedly used violence to disrupt the festival and ultimately bring it an end.
JAM Fest organiser Vladimir Unanyants has told local website Netgazeti that the Christian protesters lobbed some hardcore accusations at the festival, just before the event’s electricity supplied suddenly died.
“They were yelling and accusing us of organizing a mass sex orgy… Then, suddenly, the electricity went off. From what I’ve been told the owner of the venue cut it off,” Unanyants said.
Police eventually stopped the protestors from entering the main staging area of the festival, and convinced the priests to leave the area.
JAM Fest organisers say the local Orthodox parish demanded the concert be shut down because it was allegedly desecrating a nearby cemetery. The team behind the festival even took the “preventative measure” of revealing the location of their show late on the day of the event, but it didn’t stop the activists from finding them.
Ukrainian metal outfit Jinjer, who were scheduled to perform at the festival, have taken to Facebook to explain how their set was cancelled after the religious activists arrived at the venue.
“For the first time in several years, Jinjer’s performance was cancelled today due to an attack by a group of religious fanatics,” the band write.
“Tbilisi JAM Fest was disrupted because a nearby monastery didn’t like it. The priests brought an angry crowd of extremist supporters and attacked the festival area!!! It is sad to realize that in Georgia, a country that appears to be civilized, religion has more power than the law.”
In a statement, JAM Fest organisers say that while the first day of their festival was disrupted, they were able to find an alternative venue for their second day.
“Those were weird but extremely important days for all of us, but we did it,” the festival says.
“Disrupted 1st day of the Festival, haters, fanatics, urgent search for an alternative venue, 10-hour long music marathon and happy end. Anyway, it seems that things are being changed for the better. More ppl start to go out of the darkness.”
The incident at JAM Fest is the latest to involve Georgian Christian groups targeting events they consider to threaten the country’s typically conservative values, but at least JAM Fest’s story had a happy ending.
Catch statements from the festival and Jinjer, below.