When a Muslim scholar from Morocco was participating in a debate on Islam, the bar at the Oslo Cultural Centre closed for two hours. – Kow-towing to Islam, says Hilde Sandvik.
It was a packed house at the Oslo Cultural Centre when the Quran was discussed Tuesday night. But no alcohol was served, in respect for a Muslim scholar – who in the end was a no show.
“Dear guests! Out of respect for the event tonight we do not serve alcohol in the main room between the hours. 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. the bar in the games room is open as usual. Please stay. ”
A poster with this text met those who would listen to the debate about Islam in conjunction with the launch of the journal Samtidens special issue on the Quran Tuesday night.
When author Alf van der Hagen posted an image of the poster on his open Facebook profile, there were several critical comments.
One of those who responded was Hilde Sandvik, former cultural editor of Bergens Tidende and now leader of Broenxyz.com, a website for Scandinavian culture:”this was very disappointing, Christian. Would you have done the same thing if Espen Ottosen [of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission Cooperative] was there?”
– Why do you react?
– Because they would for certain not have done it with other religious discussions, such as if the Bible was the theme of the discussion. I do not think people are desperate to drink, but there is something about the whole nervousness and reverence that one does not grant other religious. It is unnecessary, and Christian Kjelstrup is kicking the stool from under himself, says Hilde Sandvik.
– Is our liberal values threatened by a closing a bar for two hours?
– It means something, for someone to govern the way we live our lives is wrong. It is contrary to liberal values. They are perhaps the most important thing to keep up in a world that is becoming less homogeneous. I do not understand the prostration that Christian Kjelstrup and the Cultural Centre are doing for what they think is expected, says Hilde Sandvik.
The Police’s Security Service (PST)
Shutdown on the serving of licensed drinks was introduced to appease one of the panel members, Sheik Muhammad al-Yaqoubi. Samtidens editor describes him as a “conservative Muslim scholar from Syria who currently lives in exile in Morocco after having criticized the Assad regime as well as ISIS harshly, in many media including CNN and the BBC.”
Kjelstrup thinks it could pose a danger to al-Yaqoubi if it became known that he appeared at an event were alcohol was served. After consulting with the Police’s Security Service (PST), serving of alcohol was therefore halted, according to Kjelstrup.
An important detail of the story is that the scholars never showed up, and Kjelstrup was to busy before the debate to think of reopening the bar.
– What do you answer those who believe that you set aside our liberal values by prohibiting the sale of beer?
– I look at it pragmatically. It was not a big sacrifice for me being denied a pint of beer. Is it at the expense of my sense of freedom as liberal? I think not.
– Where is your limit to which restrictions you could agree to?
– It’s hard to say, but it quickly becomes hypothetical. Give me an example.
– What if he would not allow women there?
– Completely out of the question. Then he would be disallowed to come. There were probably around 200 women there on Tuesday. If they had not been able to be there, that had been a far greater issue than if someone is disallowed from drinking beer for two hours, Kjelstrup emphasises.
– What about Espen Ottosen was debater and would not have you serving alcohol?
– I had to hold it up against the value of what his contribution might be. Al-Yaqoubi is a very interesting person, and it was important for me to get him here. He had no problematic requirements to attend. As a host I also feel a responsibility, says Christian Kjelstrup.
Reactions to the temporary prohibition he sees as trivial measured to the 500 who call him Quisling because he sells the Quran in connection with Samtidens special issue on Islam.
Source: Vårt Land / Norway Today