Have you noticed that whenever the mickey needs to be taken out of some self-righteous humorless Muslims, it’s generally a Dane doing the taking? They’re right up there with the Aussies in the mickey-taking department.
The following article from today’s edition of Berlingske Tidende was brought to our attention by commenter Phanarath via Skattetryk.dk, which is a weblog om skat, frihed og andre ting (I’m not sure that the subhead should be translated — I suspect there may be some Danish scatology in it).
Regular reader Kepiblanc has kindly and very promptly translated it for us. Skattetryk.dk supplied the image:
The Koran as a paper airplane
Artist Uwe Max Jensen has the Islamic Society [Islamisk Trossamfund = CAIR — translator’s note] on his back due to his commentary on Islamic terror: he folded a Koranic verse into a paper airplane. “This is a horrible generalization and casts suspicion on all Muslims in the world,” according to the critics.
Does artistic freedom — and freedom of speech — allow one to take a copy of that same Koranic verse the terrorists of 9/11 cited when they attacked the USA five years ago, and fold it into a paper airplane ?
Yes, says the artist, Uwe Max Jensen of Århus, who emphasizes that he doesn’t want to offend Islam.
“It surely isn’t my intention to offend Islamic culture, of which I’m a great admirer. And I’d like to underscore that it isn’t a page from the Koran, but rather a copy thereof I’ve torn out and folded. It’s a copy of that verse,” says Uwe Max Jensen, who doesn’t read Arabic but had the Islam-experts at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute translate the verse on Jihad (holy war).
But that doesn’t placate Ahmad Kassem, the spokesman for the Islamic Society.
“It is an unjust provocation and a harmful generalization. He uses a Koranic verse, valued by all Muslims — not only Osama Bin Laden’s group. That way he participates in casting a bad light upon the Koran and makes Islam appear as a religion of violence,” the spokesman says.
Just as the Koran is a sacred book to all Muslims, so it is to Imam Abdul Wahid Petersen and should be treated with deep respect. But his take on the paper airplane is a bit more relaxed.
“It depends on what happens to the paper airplane. If it — for example — is being thrown around as part of a happening I’m sure it will ignite the ire of someone. Muslims certainly wouldn’t like to see the Koran lying on the bare ground, for example. Personally, I would detest such things too, but I consider this matter a minor incident because his intention isn’t to mock Islam,” says Abdul Wahid Petersen.
On the other hand, it doesn’t matter if it’s a photocopy, the Danish convert from Nørrebro [Copenhagen suburb — translator’s note] emphasizes.
“According to Islamic thinking it’s about the Koran anyway. A photocopy — or just three connected words evidently taken from the Koran — is the Koran as well. That’s the way it is for all Muslims,” says Abdul Wahid Petersen.
Uwe Max Jensen, who repeatedly stirs up public opinions with his performance-art, thinks that The Islamic Society more aptly should condemn their religious peers, who try to justify their acts of terror with the Islam’s holy book.
“It should be a much greater offense for those people who confess to Islam that some group justifies an attack on thousands of innocent people with a verse from the Koran. They should rather criticize that,” says Uwe Max Jensen, who baptized his creation “The Koranic Verse on Islamic Jihad Folded Into a Paper Airplane”.
“The message is, that as long as Iran hasn’t nuclear weapons and Pakistan isn’t run by fundamentalists, then the religiously founded terrorism is nothing but a paper tiger in military terms, to quote Chairman Mao. I’ve made a paper airplane out of the Koranic verse equating it with the fact that the terrorists used hijacked airliners as bombs against USA,” explains Uwe Max Jensen.
Does that imply we overestimate the threat from the terror network of al-Qaeda and their likeminded, militant fundamentalists ?
“No, but in a military context they’re unable to harm us until they get weapons of mass destruction. On the other hand it’s obvious that in a psychological context they terrorize and intimidate us,” says Uwe Max Jensen.
He finds it a difficult artistic challenge to relate to the terror attack on New York and Washington that September day five years ago.
“It’s open for interpretation, but my idea was to create something where the horrible and blind fundamentalism meets the childish gestalt — normally connected with folding paper airplanes,” says Uwe Max Jensen, who during his work noticed how scary those Arabic alphanumeric characters have become in these times of terror.
“Unfortunately they’ve become synonymous with the enemy, and that’s a pity. But at the same time it isn’t a coincidence. Maybe those Arabic characters would not have become synonymous with the enemy if someone had been offended by the terrorists’ use of a Koranic verse to justify such a disgusting deed — rather than being offended by other things taking place — such at the Mohammed drawings,” concludes Uwe Max Jensen.