Poetry in Motion

Yahya Hassan is an 18-year-old poet of Palestinian descent who lives in Denmark. He is an apostate from Islam — an atheist — and accuses his fellow Muslims of exploiting the Danish welfare system, beating their children, and failing to integrate. As a result, he has resumed numerous death threats, and his poetry readings take place under heavy police security. On Monday of last week he was assaulted at the main railway station in Copenhagen by a 24-year-old “Dane”, also of Palestinian descent.

Last night Mr. Hassan gave a poetry reading in Vollsmose, a perennially unruly and violent culturally enriched suburb of Odense on the island of Fyn (for more on Vollsmose, read this, this, and this). At the last moment the venue had to be moved, due to “credible and specific threats”.

The Danish news video below aired just before the event began. Thanks to the heavy security, the reading went off without incident, according to The Copenhagen Post (English) and Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish).

Many thanks to Henrik Ræder Clausen for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:


00:00   So the man behind me, in a second, Yahya Hassan, is the person that this is all about.
00:06   He is a poet only 18 years old, of Palestinian origin.
00:09   And at 7 PM he will recite his poems, poems so explosive that the police are on highest alert.
00:18   One might think that a foreign head of state was paying an official visit.
00:24   I have heard that this is seven times as costly as taking care of a top league soccer match,
00:28   between [Danish teams] OB and FCK, for example, or something. I think it’s nuts.
00:32   It’s not like I am afraid of it, but I do ask myself: “Is this necessary?”
00:37   But it is merely the 18-year-old Yahya Hassan from Aarhus,
00:42   who is to read his poems at the Hans Christian Andersen school in the Odense suburb Vollsmose.
00:47   This is both about his safety, and about securing the location where the event takes place,
00:53   and it is about security for the people coming and going.
00:56   Due to this, police have cordoned off the area around the school, and even announced a no-fly zone over Vollsmose.
01:03   Well, there are many kinds of aircraft. Some might hang in the air making noise with their propellers,
01:07   some could be filming, and some could do other things.
01:11   For the words in the poetry of Yahya Hassan are controversial.
01:15   “I hate your veils and your Qurans and your illiterate prophets.”
01:21   He is just a small d***, that’s what he is. Standing there throwing dirt on his parents and on Islam.
01:26   For security reasons, Danish police requested the event to be moved from the library to a nearby school.
01:34   I think it’s a great idea, a great opportunity, and hope the event will go really, really well.
01:39   The security precautions meant that the pupils had to leave school by 12 noon today.
01:44   It feels good. It’s nice.
01:48   Yahya Hassan also believes that [the immigrant-heavy suburb] Vollsmose is the perfect place.
01:53   This is where things are happening. This is where the problems are.
01:57   And things will work out just fine, according to the locals.
01:59   If things work out as they usually do, it will be all quiet.
02:02   I think absolutely nothing will happen. Absolutely nothing.
02:06   It has not been possible for us to contact the main person, Yahya Hassan, today.
02:10   But on the other hand I am now connected to you, Claus Buhr.
02:13   You are at the Hans Christian Andersen school, where Yahya Hassan will recite his poems in half an hour.
02:17   You have been in the area all day, please describe the situation out there to us.
02:21   Waiting quietly. It seems that most here hope that the last man interviewed will be right, that nothing happens.
02:31   Police certainly did all they could, including talking to those potentially causing problems,
02:34   but also by creating an iron ring around the school I stand in.
02:37   And the young poet Hassan arrived here five minutes ago; he is backstage protected by the police.
02:45   And he will be sitting, I’m not sure if you can see it for the persons up there,
02:49   he will be sitting on a big, red armchair on the stage here in just under half an hour.
02:52   And as you tell us, police are massively present. How serious is the threat against him, in a few words?
02:59   It is severe. The Danish intelligence service reported that it believes there is a direct threat against him.
03:08   Not just a generic threat, a specific threat against him. Thus he now has bodyguards around the clock.
03:15   This is very unusual in Denmark; he is probably now considered one of the top five human targets in Denmark.
03:21   And what is the greatest fear for the police tonight?
03:25   The reason that police moved the event to the school from the library down there, 200 meters away,
03:32   is that the location might come under attack, that some may conduct a full assault on the venue.
03:37   Yahya Hassan could easily be protected and escorted away from here,
03:40   but all those people coming here as audience tonight are the greatest concern for the police.
03:44   But it is important to stress that at the moment, things are entirely calm here in Vollsmose.

For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.

3 thoughts on “Poetry in Motion

  1. “Yahya Hassan: Everyone uses me after their agenda”

    Ritzau | 26 November 2013
    “Yahya Hassan swipe at hypocrites subclass Islam, politicians and media. The event passed off peacefully”……….

    ……….witty remarks from the audience consisted mainly of Danish high school teachers. However, among the inquisitive was also critical Vollsmose residents and a girl with headscarf, which stood and said she could recognize the descriptions by Yahya Hassan’s upbringing………

    ……….up to people to interpret the poems and what they will call him. – I then give a damn what you call me, he said to a Danish school teacher. – People may say what they want and do whatever they want with my book – they just take responsibility for it, he said.


    Apologies for the google translation that I then applied and so there is sometimes a feeling of ambiguity, though I am sure you will still get the gist
    Hopefully some one translate so it is more easily understood and to get the subtleties of meaning.

    I am pleased that venues were sorted and the reading was allowed.
    I trust he can do many many more ! !
    The truth will be revealed.

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