By: V4 Agency
Parts relating to Muhammad and Islam in Dante’s Divine Comedy have been left out from new Belgian and Dutch translations of the work, because they may be offensive to Muslims.
Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy has been radacted in Belgium and the Netherlands. In order not to offend Muslims, the new, politically correct Flemish translation avoids all mentions of the Prophet Muhammad.
In Dante’s original work, Muhammad appears in the 8th Circle of hell, in song XXVIII. He is depicted with his body cut up from chin to anus, and with his intestines and internal organs dangling between his legs.
The changes were first reported by the Belgian De Standaard newspaper. The case has provoked serious controversy. In the Flemish translation of the work, Muhammad’s name was removed because the translator said it was “useless and offensive.” Publisher Myrthe Spiteri pointed out that “in Dante’s work, Muhammad suffers a harsh and humiliating fate, simply because he is the prophet of Islam.”
Editing out Muhammad, however, is not only justified by ideological considerations. It is worth noting that Muslims make up 25.5 per cent of Brussels’ population, 4 per cent in Wallonia, 3.9 per cent in Flanders and 4.9 per cent in the neighbouring Netherlands.
Dante has been commemorated in Italy on 25 March since last year.
German writer and commentator Arno Widmann used the occasion to attack Dante’s figure and Italy in an article. In the writer’s view, today in Italy, “an egocentric, careerist medieval poet with little to do with the birth of the Italian language, and who also happens to lag light-years behind Shakespeare in modernity, is being celebrated.”
MEP Silvia Sardone of the Lega Party led by Matteo Salvini also spoke out on the subject. He said: “25 March is a national holiday we dedicate to the great poet Dante. Unfortunately, in Europe, instead of celebrating, the work of one of our greatest poets is being censored. In the Flemish translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy in Belgium, Muhammad was removed from the Inferno [part] to avoid causing unnecessary offense,” the poitician said.
“Dante is racist, Islamophobic and not particularly inclusive for some, but for us, Italians, it marks a milestone in our history. Are we censoring it so as not to offend Muslims who now dominate public life? Unfortunately, there is nothing surprising about this, given that years ago extremists from a Salafist group tried to launch an attack on the church of San Petronio in Bologna, because there is a fresco of Muhammad suffering in hell,” the MEP has said.
As the newspaper Avvenire notes, it should be emphasized that Dante’s position on Arab-Muslim culture is very complex and his negative portrayal of Muhammad does not necessarily mean that he was Islamophobic.