Croatian festival reverses decision, will stage Michel Houellebecq play

Croatian festival reverses decision, will stage Michel Houellebecq play
French writer Michel Houellebecq posing during his photo exhibition "Before Landing" at the Pavillon Carre de Baudouin in Paris. (Miguel Medina / AFP/Getty Images)

Two weeks after it was pulled from the lineup of a prominent summer festival in Croatia, a play by controversial French writer Michel Houellebecq is back on the schedule.

The play, "The Elementary Particles," was originally nixed from the July Dubrovnik Summer Festival due to security concerns.


Houellebecq is known as both one of France's most admired writers as well as that country's enfant terrible. His sixth novel, "Submission,"  imagined France in 2022 under the rule of a Muslim president and sparked outrage even before its publication.

The day in January that Houellebecq appeared in caricature on the cover of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, its offices were attacked by Muslim extremists who killed 11 people.

"The Elementary Particles," however, has nothing to do with Islam. But that didn't stop festival organizers from removing it from the lineup when an analysis carried out by the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency said it represented a serious security risk.

According to Reuters, the reversal of that decision came after protests were staged by those in "cultural circles" who argued that pulling the play reflected poorly on the festival.

"The festival's council has confirmed this year's program, which will include the play "Les Particules Elementaires,'" the culture ministry told Reuters in an emailed statement on Friday.

Festival spokeswoman, Karla Labas, added that the play would be held under police security.

"We don't quite know what it will look like but we are confident the police will do a professional job," she told Reuters.

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