The Danish-Palestinian poet Yahya Hassan was forced to flee from a group of knife-wielding men in the Palestinian city of Ramallah during his visit this week.
The attack occurred as the young poet was heading back to his quarters after spending time at a grill party with some Palestinian friends. He was asked by a group of four or five men if he was “Yahya from Denmark”. After Hassan’s confirmation, a man punched him and Yahya fled down the street.
“Fortunately I am a bit younger and a bit faster than them,” Hassan told Berlingske newspaper.
“When I looked back I could see that the man was chasing me with a knife. The man who hit me called me an infidel and cursed, so it was religious.”
Fantastic none the less
Hassan’s trip to Palestine was part of an ongoing Danish-Palestinian writing exchange, ‘Words Without Borders’. Last October, the group held an event at Copenhagen’s Black Diamond library, and over the weekend it took part in a Palestinian literature festival, PalFest .
Despite the attack, Hassan underlined that his trip had been a fantastic experience and that he hadn’t reported the attack to the Danish intelligence agency, PET.
Hassan’s poems about growing up in an atmosphere of violence and religious hypocrisy in Denmark, and his sharp attacks on Islam, have led to several threats and at least one physical assault in Denmark.