Salzburg Festival hit by Gaddafi allegations

Salzburg Festival hit by Gaddafi allegations


norman lebrecht

April 04, 2011

The Salzburg summer festival is suffering the first of its annual embarrassments with a spate of allegations linking the man invited to give its opening lecture, Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler, to the tottering Libyan dictator.

Ziegler, an anti-globalisation activist who was invited to speak at Salzburg on the topic of hunger, founded the Gaddafi Human Rights Prize in 1989 and was awarded it himself in 2002.
Ziegler, 76, describes the attacks on him as slanderous and linked them to the festival’s major sponsors, Nestlé and Credit Suisse. ‘That’s how fat cats operate,’ he told Austrian Radio.
Ziegler now describes Gaddafi as a psychopath and mass murderer.
The invitation, however, has been withdrawn. 
Given the past record of the two Swiss sponsors, hunger might not have been the cleverest theme for Salzburg to choose. And given Ziegler’s pronounced anti-Americanism, he was pretty much guaranteed to infuriate an influential audience sector.
Sound like a complete collapse of curatorial intelligence in the festival office.

This is Mr Ziegler.

This is the Salzburg audience.
And this is what they won’t be discussing.


  • If the “curatorial intelligence” you speak of involves presenting speakers (even if controversial) who might encourage dialog that raises our moral consciousness, then the efforts in Salzburg were not unjustified – and perhaps even commendable.
    In the USA in 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (21.3 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.6 percent) or single men (27.8 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (24.9 percent) and Hispanic households (26.9 percent).
    For more details see: