Denmark: Police threat assessment stops event with young poet

22 November 2013

A debate and event with the young poet Yahya Hassan was cancelled due to a threat assessment by the police on 21 November 2013.


18-year-old Yahya Hassan of Palestinian decent is under police protection after being violently attacked and receiving death threats following the publication of his collection of 150 poems, which criticizes the Danish immigrant community and accuses his parents’ generation of bad parenting. His poetry book has become an awarded bestseller.

The police have an obligation to protect artists’ freedom of expression and the public’s right to participate in cultural events. Consequently Freemuse today asked Funen police for an explanation of the process related to the cancellation of the event with the poet Yahya Hassan yesterday in Vollsmose Library in Odense Municipality, Denmark.

UN: Obligation to protect artists
Freemuse reports attacks on artistic expression to the UN and has asked Funen Police to explain the course of events and the decision behind recommending a cancellation. Freemuse has Special Consultative Status with the UN and it is important that we receive and disseminate accurate information, said Ole Reitov, Director of Freemuse.

Ole Reitov worked as a consultant to the UN office during the preparation of the report on the global trends related to attacks on artists.

The final UN report refers to the existing Conventions for the protection of artistic freedom of expression and points out towards UN Member States to: “abide by their obligation to protect artists and all persons participating in artistic activities or dissemination of artistic expressions and creations from violence by third parties. States should de-escalate tensions when these arise, maintain the rule of law and protect artistic freedoms.”

Yahya Hassan is critical of the cancellation of the event and is joined in his critic by the Danish Minister of Culture who has criticized the police for giving into threats instead of protecting the poet.

Sources – in Danish language:

Efter høj trusselsvurdering: Yahya Hassan-foredrag i Vollsmose er aflyst

Politiet frygter kaos i Vollsmose

Yahya hassan om aflysning: Det er sgu en falliterklæring


Freemuse anmoder fynsk politi om redegørelse for sag om Yahya Hassan

Pressemeddelelse 22. november 2013

Politiet har pligt til at beskytte kunstneres ytringsfrihed samt publikums ret til at deltage i kulturelle arrangementer. Derfor har Freemuse i dag bedt Fyns politi om en redegørelse for forløbet i forbindelse med aflysningen af arrangementet med digteren Yahya Hassan i Vollsmose.

Freemuse indrapporterer overgreb mod kunstnerisk ytringsfrihed til FN og har derfor bedt Fyn Politi om skriftligt at redegøre for hændelsforløbet og beslutningen om at anbefale en aflysning.

“Freemuse har konsultativ status ved FN og det er derfor vigtigt, at vi får og videreformidler korrekt information,” siger Ole Reitov, direktør for Freemuse.


Freemuse skrev sidste år baggrundsrapport til FN’s særlige rapportør for kulturelle rettigheder om globale tendenser i forhold til angreb på kunstnere.

Den færdige FN rapport henviser til de gældende konventioner for beskyttelse af kunstnerisk ytringsfrihed og påpeger overfor FN’s medlemsstater at:

“Staterne bør overholde pligten til at beskytte kunstnere og alle personer, som deltager i kunstneriske aktiviteter eller formidling af kunstneriske udtryk og kreative værker fra vold fra trediepart. Staterne bør deeskalere spændinger når disse opstår, opretholde retssikkerhed og beskytte kunstneriske friheder.”


Rapportens originaltekst:

IV. Conclusion and recommendations

(e) States should abide by their obligation to protect artists and all persons participating in artistic activities or dissemination of artistic expressions and creations from violence by third parties. States should de-escalate tensions when these arise, maintain the rule of law and protect artistic freedoms.


Læs hele rapporten:
Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed:
The right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity



Pressekontakt: Ole Reitov
33 32 10 27 (kontor)
23 23 27 65 (mobil)
F R E E M U S E  –  Freedom of Musical Expression


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