Carlos Celdran 'interrogated' in Dubai

Carlos Celdran found himself again in a religion-spurred controversy, this time outside the Philippine territory.

Celdran, well-known tour guide and reproductive health activist, told Yahoo! Philippines he was questioned by the security division of Madinat Jumeirah, the venue of the Art Dubai 2012 fair, where he performed.

GMA News Online reported that he was interrupted in the middle of his “Livin La Vida Imelda” performance by men in “robes” just as Celdran was talking about Marcos’s special friendship with the late Libyan strongman Moammar Gadaffi.

‘Tone down’ content

He was allowed to continue his performance outside the venue but was questioned after his show.

Celdran relates that he told his interrogators his performance included an imaginary conversation that had Imelda telling Gaddafi, "Islam is all about peace, and if you are funding a war in my country that is pitting Filipino against Filipino, you are also pitting Muslim against Muslim. How are you following Mohammed?"

But he was asked to tone down the political and religious content of his show. However, this "order" did not sit well with Celdran who was quoted as saying, “That's 60 percent of my show. So I decided to cancel it." Celdran was due to give a final performance of his show last Saturday, March 24.

“Considering all the preconceived notions one has about censorship in the region, I did feel quite anxious about what the outcome might be,” he told Yahoo! Philippines about the interrogation.

He also said that the curator of the show had “no concerns” about the content of his show. “The content is really only about the PH and our relationship with other countries,” he said in an online interview.

Celdran's forte

In a statement, Celdran said: “To those wondering about why I deleted posts re: @artdubai Upon reflection. My experience in Art Dubai, which is about Freedom of Speech is an issue that the Middle East is currently grappling with."

"But in the end, it must be THEM who should be leading this argument. Not me. Lest I even RISK being misconstrued by my words once again and risk it being construed by people who are NOT within an arts and culture context. I don't want that argument and those who might misconstrue following me all the way here to the Philippines," he added.

Celdran also said that his "forte is Philippine issues" and that he will have to "stick to having my issues close to these shores."

Celdran is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, dressed as Jose Rizal, Celdran interrupted Mass at the Manila Cathedral where he held up a sign reading, “Damaso” to protest the Catholic Church’s campaign against the passage of the Reproductive Health bill.  #


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