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Theatre director fired over Isis outburst

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Theatre director fired over Isis outburst
Sewan Latchinian. Photo: DPA
17:18 CEST+02:00
Sewan Latchinian, the ex-director of Rostock state theatre, is taking his former employers to court after they fired him for comparing their cultural policies to those of Isis, it was announced on Wednesday.

“For weeks Isis have been been destroying the world heritage sites in Nimrod and Kirkuk with religious pretexts,” Latchinian told a gathering of 500 supporters, protesting the city council's decision to enforce financial cutbacks on the theatre in March.

“And here in Mecklenburg-Vorpommen – I don't say it's the same but one must compare it – the destruction of our functioning theatre organisation has been started in the name of money,”

The senior committee of the city council took the decision to sack Latchinian on Tuesday.

But Andreas Kuntz, a Rostock-based labour lawyer, told The Local that the dismissal was “unjust.”

Employing a colourful German idiom, Kuntz said that “[Latchinian] leant too far out the window with his statements, that's why he was fired.”

"[But] an official warning would have been the correct reaction. Dismissal should only be used as a last resort.”

The ex-director has a “good chance of success” in his lawsuit, said Kuntz.

Sensitivity due to Holocaust

Latchinian, who started working for the state theatre at the start of the 2014/15 season, later qualified his statement by saying that he had a right as an artist to satirical and poetic licence, reports Stern.

He had only wanted to bring to people's attention the need to be scrupulous with their cultural heritage, he said.

But Kuntz explained that such statements are extremely sensitive in Germany due to the legacy of the Holocaust.

“It is an unwritten law in Germany that comparison with the Holocaust is grounds for dismissal because its makes light of the suffering of the victims.”

Several politicians have been dismissed in the past for such comparisons, he noted.

By making a comparison of a similar nature, Latchinian had brought his employer into disrepute and thus broken a "duty of loyalty" which is common to all German employment contracts.

Because Lachtinian's role is so prominent he had very little room for manoeuvre in this regard, said Kuntz.

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