A woman was arrested for making posters of Virgin Mary with a 'rainbow halo'
AP/Beata Zawrzel/Twitter

A human rights activist has been arrested in Poland on suspicion of "offending religious beliefs", after posters depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus cloaked in an LGBT rainbow halo began to appear in the city of Płock.

Protestors gathered to call for the release of 51-year-old Elżbieta Podlesna, who was detained after returning on a trip to Belgium and Holland with Amnesty International to raise awareness about the rule of law in Poland.

Police raided her home and found dozens of copies of the poster, which is an adaptation of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, a famous Byzantine icon of the Mother Mary that has resided in the Jasna Gora monastery in southern Poland since the 14th century.

The Polish interior minister, Joachim Brudziński, who previously described the posters as "cultural barbarism", wrote on Twitter that Ms Podlesna had:

"...insulted religious feelings through public insults and the profanation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa and the hanging of it on trash baskets and toilets..."

The case illustrates the rub between freedom of speech and the questioning of religious views in Poland.

In recent months, Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) have attempted to paint the country's values as under threat from liberal Western values in order to secure electoral gains.

Minister Brudziński said on Twitter that the "tale" of freedom and tolerance do not justify "insulting the feelings of believers".

Ms Podlesna allegedly distributed the doctored image of the country's most sacred icon on walls and bins near St. Dominik's church.

She told TVN24:

"This is certainly not an attack on religion, certainly not an attack on faith, this is not a form of attack.

"How can you attack anyone using a picture, let's be serious."

Amnesty International's Regional Europe Researcher, Barbora Cernusakova, said: "Given the lack of evidence of a crime here, we can only see that Elżbieta has been detained for her peaceful activism.

"Restricting activists from freely expressing their views in the country is unlawful and must stop immediately."

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