The French Prime Minister has stepped in to have a ban lifted on an advert for a musical trio called ‘The Priests’.
Transport chiefs had ruled that posters advertising a concert in June by the group breached the country’s strict rules on secularity, stopping promotional materials being placed on the country’s tram and Metro network, The Local reports.
The trio, whose album Spiritus Dei topped the SNEP French album chart for nine weeks, is raising money for Christians persecuted in places such as Iraq and Syria. Previously, they have given €50,000 to help open a school in India plus €300,000 for charities helping children in France.
But the decision to ban the posters, which mentioned ‘Christians of the East’ was widely criticised on social media and in the French press.
RAPT and its advertising agency Metrobus had previously ordered the group’s producers to amend the wording regarding the proceeds of the concert, saying it was necessary under France’s public services requirements for neutrality ‘in the context of an armed conflict abroad’.
After intervention by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Pierre Mongin, the head of the state-owned tram network RAPT said they would now display the posters by the music group.
Critics of their original decision pointed out that while the state-owned network had banned the word ‘Christians’ it had no problem allowing an advert promoting a marital affairs website.
CHREDO, a French group which aims to raise awareness of the plight of Christian minorities, has asked a court to rule on the decision.
The organisation’s chief, Patrick Karam, said they would press ahead with the legal action despite the decision to allow the posters because “We want a conviction to avoid such behaviour.”
On it’s official twitter account, RAPT said that should the court rule that their decision to insist the revenue details of the concert were removed from the 250 posters was wrong they would assume the consequences and open up its advertising.
The original decision caused anger amongst France’s Catholic population and prompted Valls to say in a tweet that the company needed to ‘assume its responsibilities’.
Hours later, the organisation made a U-turn.