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Orthodox Christians Try to Halt Play, Clash With Greek Police

Thessaloniki, Greece

Greek riot police used batons to stop an attempted theater invasion by monks, priests and other Orthodox Christians protesting what they claim is a blasphemous play.

Wielding poles with Greek flags on them, some of the 100-strong crowd tried to break a police cordon Wednesday outside the Aristoteleion Theatre in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

Protesters oppose the staging of "The Hour of the Devil," an adaptation of a story by Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa about a discussion between a young woman and a personable devil.

Chanting "Freemasons out of Greece!" they brandished religious banners and icons.

Cast member Evgenia Samara voiced shock and surprise at the protest, while director Grigoris Apostolopoulos said the "symbolic" play speaks about good and evil in all humans.