After his publisher had printed 2,500 copies of the satirical book “In His Name,” which is about religion, the Norwegian artist Thomas Knarvik, was told that his book would not be published anyway, and that all copies would be burned and destroyed. To publish his book he had to do it abroad and found a Danish publisher who was willing to do it.
Last year you made a book which your publisher decided to destroy. Why?
- My publisher decided to destroy my book due to fear of Muslim retaliation, and fear of not beeing politically correct.
What is the book about?
- The book is about Sharia, extremism, and Catholic priests abuse of children.
The Swedish artist Dan Park, who is also an provocative artist, has been arrested for his art. Are you afraid the same will happen to you?
- No, I´m not afraid of being arrested. In the case of a similar deprivation as in Sweden, I would look at the fact of beeing imprisoned, as similar to that of a Saudi blogger, and therefore be proud of my resistance towards such a collective mental illness. I would even ask for some additional whipping too, probably.
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked by terrorists, as were both the Swedish artist Lars Vilks and the Danish artist Kurt Westergaard, because of their drawings, which are similar to your art. Do you receive protection so that nothing will happen to you?
- I don´t have any protection. We do have in Scandinavia a procedure that gives the terrorist the first attempt, unless it´s written in a jihadi stone that I am the specific target.
I´m bare naked. Threats; written or orally, won´t be followed up by the police, until there is concrete evidence, which there seldom are.
Do you believe freedom of expression has suffered too much because of threats from Islamic fanatics, and what should be done about it?
- Freedom of expression suffers from subservient and pathetic politicians.
I mean, the self-righteousness of a Muslim who feels that Islam is questioned, or had his prophet lampooned, is a God given fact. Therefore, the ones to blame for potential retaliations, are entirely the politicians who relativize the term; freedom of speech, and therefore open up for the mentally hurt abuser.
I say fu@k debate. We´ve been debating for hundreds of years to gain the understanding of freedom as we know today. Why reverse this common good?
And that might answered your question - what should be done about it? Keep on lampooning… Never give in to depraved perverted ideas by hurt people.
When you make your art, which is clearly political and affected by today’s society, do you ever think about that it could emotional hurt the persons you depicts, or do you feel that they deserve it by being “silly” public figures and thus “free game”?
- I draw a line between private and public (figures). I never do private matters. I consider the toughness from case to case, to what extent, and where to draw the line. If I hurt someone, I don´t find that much pleasing. I transform my subjects into objects for the case matter, and if the tone is hard, well: It´s because the case is of uttermost importance (to me).
The controversial book “In His Name” has been published by the Danish publishing company TØKK Publishing, owned by Kåre Bluitgen, who indirectly started the Danish cartoon controversy in 2005 when he invited subscribers to illustrate a children's book about Mohammed and his life.
- The book is written in English, with a Danish preface. The plan is to publish it in other countries too. Countries that prohibit "burning of books", says Knarvik, and adds that the Norwegian edition now only exists in a few give away items.
The book can be purchased here.
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