CPH Post

News

Yahya Hassan gives a cautious reading in Palestine

Under tight security and under the radar, the Danish-Palestinian poet took his verse to Bethlehem


PET was afraid that Hassan's appearance would create controversy in Palestine (Photo: Wikipedia)

June 2, 2014
14:56

by Ray Weaver


Danish-Palestinian poet Yahya Hassan read some of his controversial poems at a small cafe in Bethlehem last Friday night. It was the poet’s first reading in Palestine, and also his first in English. Hassan’s reading 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 .

Hassan’s reading took place a day before the event officially kicked off at a small venue near where, according to Christian tradition, the angels gave the shepherds the news of the birth of Jesus. Organisers insisted that there was no symbolism intended in the choice of location, and that the discreet location and invitation-only crowd were all chosen in line with recommendations made by the national intelligence agency, PET.

A quiet reading
Hassan's reading was not mentioned in the program listings along with the other authors presenting their works. PET deemed his appearance a security risk, so the media was prevented from mentioning his visit before the controversial poet was safely on his way back to Denmark.

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. His events in Denmark are always conducted under heavy security. Although neither his poetry nor the debate surrounding them has gained any traction in Palestine, organisers were afraid that radical religious groups would organise 'something' if they heard about Hassan’s visit.

READ MORE: Continued death threats against poet

There was some eye-rolling and angry murmuring among the audience at Hassan’s Bethlehem reading, and the feeling was that his work would have created quite a stir if it had been read at a larger assembly.



Related stories



Latest Comments

Go to South Park's site and search for the Scientology episode. Plus this...

(William Harvey on November 24, 2014 21:57)

Dear Mrs. Steffensen! I think you showed Her Majesty proper respect by...

(Jens Rost on November 24, 2014 21:55)

Not sure why this is news if there is no change in status since 2001?

(Bill Jones on November 24, 2014 21:11)

I have a question, these women who walk around dressed in these black sheets,...

(Jon Paris King on November 24, 2014 21:04)

Denmark pilots, you are not alone as we the Romanians were. We are with you,...

(Florin Rusu on November 24, 2014 18:27)

Danish is going the way off Latin, its soon to be a dead language plus or...

(Tom Therkelsen on November 24, 2014 18:18)

Speaking of free speech, the Swedish way, how about this one?...

(Jens Rost on November 24, 2014 18:17)

So true (:

(Alexandra Tor Del Rey on November 24, 2014 15:15)

An honest and clear analysis

(Julian Cohen-Serrins on November 24, 2014 04:09)

Might as well stick a fork in Denmark cuz it`s done...

(Jon Paris King on November 24, 2014 01:19)