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Instagram whip-round after user's 'Photoshopped Jesus' picture nets him a fine
A YOUNG man fined €480 after Photoshopping his face onto a picture of a Jesus statue and uploading it onto Instagram has managed to crowdfund the whole amount from outraged social media users.
The 24-year-old, from Jaén in the southern region of Andalucía, sparked criticism in April 2016 with his 'doctoring' of a photograph of the statue carried in the Good Friday parade by the Easter brotherhood of La Amargura, a figure known as Jesús Despojado or Cristo de la Amargura.
Members of the fiesta group told him to take the picture down, but he refused, so they denounced him for offending religious sentiments – effectively, blasphemy.
Prosecution sources described it as 'a shameful manipulation' of Christ's face which 'showed a blatant disdain for and mockery of' the brotherhood and 'the clear intention of causing offence'.
They called for the Instagram user to be fined €2,160, which would be substituted with a prison sentence of 180 days – suspended, as it is less than two years and for a first offence – in the event of non-payment.
The young man opted to plead guilty to avoid further ado, leading to a more lenient result – a daily fine of €2 for eight months, or a total of €480.
Coordinator of the left-wing party Podemos, for Andalucía, Teresa Rodríguez slammed the decision on Twitter and also in person in a public interview in Jaén this week.
She said the Law of Public Safety – frequently referred to as the 'gagging law' – approved by the right-wing PP national government had gone too far.
“We're seeing Twitter users, rap artists and others facing prison sentences and fines purely for expressing their views in various forms,” Sra Rodríguez criticised.
She calls the €480 fine 'totally shameful', especially in a country considered secular and where the law and the Church do not influence each other.
“The gagging law is leaving the general public in a state of insecurity and putting freedom of expression in jeopardy,” Rodríguez complained.
Numerous other social media users agreed, and launched a crowdfunding campaign amongst themselves to pay the young man's fine.
They managed to raise the full €480 in less than an hour.
This is not the first time social media has landed ordinary users in trouble – a young woman training as a teacher re-tweeted jokes which had already done the rounds concerning one of dictator General Franco's ex-ministers who was killed by an ETA car bomb.
The victim's vehicle was literally blasted over a church roof, and the tweet – published about three years before the student's court case – made references to flying cars.
Although her jail sentence is under two years and does not have to be served, it has cost the student her career as she needs to have a completely clean record to practise as a schoolteacher.
Rapper César Strawberry has also faced criminal action for comments on Twitter interpreted as 'exaltation of terrorism' for advocating certain politicians be targeted by the now-defunct Basque separatist cell ETA.
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