Blasphemy? Christians Want Strict Action against ‘Goregaon Social’ Pub
Mangaluru: Outrageous depiction of various Saints and religious items from the Holy Book Bible at a Pub named “Goregaon Social” at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon ( East ), Mumbai, which was nothing short of blasphemy to Christianity had very much hurt the Christian faithful, that the owners quickly removed them as soon as a FIR was filed with the police. But the members of the “Watchdog Foundation” who raised the voice against such blasphemy wants the authorities to revoke the license of the pub and strict action taken against those responsible for such act.
Prior to the action taken, there were stain pictures of Saints with funny names written there under. The Bar area had a backdrop of a Tabernacle set up. Even the seating arrangement in the bar was that of church Pews. Even the messages inscribed on the benches were from Holy Bible. Aside from that, the woodwork has some charred effects to allegedly make the place look like a burnt church, while the bar was stationed at the tabernacle – traditionally, this is where the Eucharist is kept for Communion. The Pub Management has done this deliberate and malicious act with an intent to outrage the religious feelings of the Christian community by insulting its religion and our religious beliefs, say the Foundation members.
Before the complaint
For instance there was Jesus holding a leather bag, Mother Mary having a Chain in her hand ( instead of Rosary ) Moses holding a Computer Tablet, St. Anthony shown wearing Glasses, etc. similarly Tabernacle where Eucharist is stored or reserved was instead shown in the said pub having some liquor bottles with inscription of Holy Cross on the container resembling the Tabernacle, which is considered most Holy by Christians. But quick action by the law enforcement officials has made the pub owners remove everything that hurts the sentiments of the Christians. In the meantime, the NGO trustees and brothers Godfrey Pimenta and Nicholas Almeida had filed a FIR to arrest and take action against the Owner of the said Pub (under Section 295A of IPC) and cancellation of the Trade License, Liquor Permit, Health License and confiscation of the property. Watchdog Foundation has also written to the commissioner, CM, PM over the pew-shaped bar and Bible messages on seating, claiming it hurts their religious sentiments.
Now that that the Hipster bar “Goregaon Social” is already in a soup over the use of Catholic iconography and symbols in its décor, raising hackles among the minority community. Although the offending images were taken down within hours of a FIR being registered against the pub in Oberoi Mall, however, activists from the NGO Watchdog Foundation insist that the bar license is cancelled. Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Nicholas Almeida said “A friend told me about the place, so my brother and I went there on Tuesday night and saw the offensive décor for ourselves. Immediately, we proceeded to Dindoshi police station to lodge a FIR. By the next day, the stained glass had been replaced. When we visited the pub, we saw stained glass paintings of saints with funny names scrawled beneath them. The bar was set against the backdrop of a tabernacle and the seating arrangement is similar to that of church pews. There were also messages from the Bible inscribed on the benches. This is not just blasphemy but also an insult to religious sentiments. It was done with the intent to outrage the sentiments of the Christian community.”
Also speaking to Team Mangalorean, Godfrey Pimenta said, “On behalf of the Archdiocese of Bombay, Father Warner D’Souza had also expressed objections to the décor. He also wanted the owner arrested and jailed, and license cancelled. The interiors were designed by Basrai brothers — Ayaz and Zameer — of The Busride Design Studio, and we have filed a case against these architects with Council of Architects, New Delhi. Also, a defamation notice has been forwarded. According to the owner, Riyaaz Amlani, the décor was meant as a comment on consumerism and not religion. The pub’s Facebook page introduces the place as a ‘Church of anti-consumerism’.”
“The interiors consultants say the décor is more a comment on consumerism than religion. If my Jesus Christ is shown carrying a handbag, and Mother Mary, instead of holding a rosary is holding a chain, while Moses is holding a tablet in his hand — all this consumerism is what has hurt me. We are going to make the interior consultants a party to the case too. Let them try something similar with Islam and see the consequences. What they are trying to show is the depiction of a burnt church. The owner wants to depict it only for consumerism. For me, the bar is a church now; how can you serve booze there? added Pimenta.
He further said, “It’s ironic that this issue has pitted members of the Catholic minority against a person from another minority – the owner, Riyaaz Amlani has a Parsi mother and Khoja Muslim father. But if he does belong to a minority and if it is Islam, then why is he involved in the liquor business in the first place? Isn’t it haraam for them? Also, if he wasn’t guilty then why did he remove the offensive objects in the middle of the night? Some people say that we have gone too extreme. How can you say this is extreme? Do you know what would be the state of the bar if this was another community? We are soft-natured people, that is why we are easy targets in the city. We will continue our fight till proper action is taken against the pub owner and the architects, for hurting the sentiments of Christians and likewise”.
After removing the photos from stainless glass
Meanwhile, Dolphy D’Souza-spokesperson for Save Our Land (SOUL)-Mumbai also speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “This Blasphemy was nothing but an act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a religious or holy persons or sacred things, which is sacred or inviolable. It has already hurt the sentiments of Christians, and even though the owner has removed all the messages, action needs to be taken against them, and probably pub license revoked too. They should have known better before they got into their action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things”.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), the community’s activist NGO has demanded arrests in the case of the blasphemous representation of Catholic saints, religious objects and church ambience in the restopub. According to Joseph Dias, CSF general secretary, the police need to arrest Riyaaz Amlani, Ayaaz and Zameer Basrai (Busride Design Studio), the designers, besides the management of the Oberoi Mall for permitting such blasphemy to operate from its premises.