A well-known Spanish actor and activist will answer to accusations that he insulted God and the Virgin Mary in a profanity-laced Facebook from more than a year ago, a judge decided this week.
It’s the latest high-profile case in Spain to raise freedom of speech fears in the Iberian county.
The accusations against Willy Toledo, a film and television actor from Madrid, stem from a Facebook post he shared on July 5, 2017, in which he criticized the prosecution of three women who had paraded around the southern city of Seville holding a large model of female genitalia, El Pais reported.
In his post, 48-year-old Toledo said: “I sh** on God and have enough sh** left over to sh** on the dogma of the holiness and virginity of the Virgin Mary. This county is unbearably shameful. I’m disgusted. Go f*** yourselves. Long like the Insubordinate P****.”
In another post, Toledo wrote: “I sh** on Our Lady of the Pillar and I sh** on everything that moves.”
Toledo, who won the Goya Award – the Spanish equivalent to the Academy Awards – for best actor twice, was denounced by the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers for “covering God and the Virgin Mary ridicule.”
In April 2018, Toledo was summoned by a judge for question – a request he ignored, saying he had not “committed any offence and so there is no need to appear before a judge,” The Guardian reported.
A month later, he ignored the summons for a second time and a Madrid court ordered he be detained.
Toledo was arrested two weeks ago for questioning. He spent a night in prison before appearing before a judge the next day, before he was released.
He told reporters outside the courthouse that he did not believe he had “committed any kind of crime” and that, by forcing police to arrest him, he was staging “an act of civil disobedience.”
In his ruling to pursue a case against Toledo, the judge said there are “sufficient reasons” to prosecute the actor for the Facebook posts.
“They contain potentially offensive phrases for the Catholic religion and its practitioners,” he wrote. “Devoid of any critical sense.”
According to El Pais, Article 525 of the Spanish Criminal Code sets out monetary fines for people who offend the feelings of the members of a religious confession by “publicly disparaging their dogmas, beliefs, rites or ceremonies.”
Toledo responded to the judge’s decision in a long Facebook post on Tuesday, saying that “if the prosecution or the plaintiffs decide that my crime needs to be brought to trial, the [royal] Bourdon democracy will be trying an individual for a BLASPHEMY crime.”
The president of the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers told El Pais that she expected the decision from the judge.
“I believe that Mr. Toledo has got much worse,” Polonia Castellanos said. “Instead of trying to mediate an apology, he has fallen into a constant repetition of the same offense with all of his public statements.”
Oscar-winner Javier Bardem has publically supported Toledo, saying they must continue to fight for freedom of speech.