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Orthodox radicals spear Madonna poster

Published: 1:59PM Tuesday September 05, 2006 Source: Reuters

Members of a radical Russian Orthodox group speared a poster of US pop star Madonna on Monday and demanded a ban on her show in which she stages a mock-crucifixion.

Tickets to Madonna's September 12 concert - part of her "Confessions" global tour - had been sold nearly two months in advance despite protests from Christian churches.

The Orthodox Church has urged believers to stay away from the show, in which Madonna sings from a crucifix, wearing a crown of thorns, describing it as "blasphemy."

Fringe Orthodox groups demanded the show be banned.

"We will never allow her to desecrate our greatest icons. We demand to drive Madonna out of Russian territory," Leonid Simanovich-Nikshich, head of a group calling itself the Union of Orthodox Religious Banner Bearers, told about 100 supporters at a central Moscow square.

"They say that Madonna is very rich, but what is all that wealth if a person has lost their soul?"

Simanovich-Nikshich and a couple of supporters then speared a portrait poster of Madonna with a wooden pike, ripped it up, tossed the pieces on the ground and stamped on them.

Supporters waved flags and banners. "Power to Christ. Death to the Anti-Christ," one banner read.

The Vatican accused Madonna of blasphemy and provocation when she staged the mock crucifixion in Rome last month.

Madonna has attracted accusations of blasphemy throughout her career. In 1989 her hit song Like a Prayer featured burning crosses and statues crying blood.