Franch Catholics Protest
France has seen a rise in fundamental Catholicism in recent months, which some view as being linked to the popularity of Front National leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. (Reuters) Reuters

The Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris has become the latest target in a wave of Catholic demonstrations across France against what they call "blasphemous" plays.

The theatre was surrounded by riot police on patrol with guard dogs this week in the run-up to the premiere of the play Golgota Picnic by Argentinian writer Rodrigo Garcia.

The play, which takes place on a stage strewn with burger buns, has several religious references, including sacred readings and a crucifixion scene.

André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, called the play "deliberately offensive", though he did not see it.

"The Théâtre du Rond-Point isn't an anti-Christian, anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish place," said theatre head Jean-Michel Ribes, who described the role of artists as that of fighting against "suffocating dogma".

Two men with alleged links to fundamentalist Catholic groups were arrested at the weekend after attempting to disable the theatre's security system, The Guardian reported.

Catholic groups have called for demonstrations and prayer vigils outside the theatre every night the play is shown, while Archbishop Vingt-Trois is to lead protest prayers at Notre Dame Cathedral.

There has been a rise in fundamentalist Catholic demonstrations against plays and theatres deemed "blasphemous" , which some have linked to the rise of Marine Le Pen, head of the rightist Front National.

Earlier this year, a gallery in Avignon was subjected to an unprecedented attack which ruined many paintings, including Piss Christ by New York artist Andres Serrano. Protesters have also held peaceful demonstrations with wooden crosses and signs saying "Stop Christianophobia".

In 1988, a screening of Martin Scorsese's film The Last Temptation of Christ was fire bombed at a cinema in central Paris.