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India: Bombay Christian group files complaint against pub’s ’blasphemous’ interiors

Thursday 3 November 2016, by siawi3

Source: The Watchdog Foundation and the Archdiocese of Bombay have taken offence at the popular eatery’s irreverent use of religious iconography.

November 02, 2016

Mumbai: Christian group files complaint against Goregaon Social for pub’s ’blasphemous’ interiors

The Watchdog Foundation and the Archdiocese of Bombay have taken offence at the popular eatery’s irreverent use of religious iconography.

Image credit: Facebook/Warner D’Souza

The Watchdog Foundation, an organisation claiming to represent Christian interests, has filed a police complaint against the owner of Goregaon Social, a pub in suburban Mumbai, on the grounds that the establishment’s interior decoration is blasphemous. The Archdiocese of Bombay also issued an official press statement on Wednesday condemning the restaurant for hurting religious sentiments.

According to a statement by the Watchdog Foundation, Goregaon Social – which opened in August – has interiors with “outrageous depiction of various Saints and religious items from the Holy Book Bible, which is nothing short of blasphemy to Christianity”. The list of decor elements in the pub includes stain glass images depicting “Jesus holding a leather bag”, “Moses holding a computer tablet” and “St Anthony wearing glasses”.

“The bar area has a backdrop of a Tabernacle set up...the seating arrangement in the bar is that of church pews. Even the messages inscribed on the benches are from the Holy Bible,” the press statement said. In their police complaint, made on Tuesday night, Watchdog Foundation has demanded the arrest of the pub’s owner for outraging religious sentiments under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

The Church’s official press release, meanwhile, demands that the pub be closed down and a its operational licences be cancelled till the interior decoration is changed. “How did the BMC give permission for these interiors? It is a clear violation of our laws and it is upsetting that our community is taken for granted like this,” said Father Warner D’Souza, a spokesperson for the Catholic Church.

Goregaon Social is owned by Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality Pvt Ltd. Scroll.in was unable to reach Riyaaz Amlani, the chief executive officer and managing director of the company, on the phone. The restaurant, too, is not responding to phone calls. “Two priests went there today [Wednesday], and the management says they are closed for maintenance,” said D’Souza.

In an apparent explanation for the choice of interiors, the pub had on August 29 put up a Facebook post with its pictures alongside the comment, "Take a walk inside the church of anti-consumerism."