A new Dutch translation of Dante’s classic tale ‘The Divine Comedy’ has been modified to remove the fact that in the original the Prophet Muhammad had been confined to hell.
But they left in various popes, Julius Caesar’s murderers, and homosexuals who still appear in the story, confined to eternal damnation.
The Divine Comedy is a long Italian narrative poem by Dante Alighieri that was completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321.
In Inferno, the first part of the epic poem, considered one of the greatest works of world literature, Muhammad is in the eighth circle of hell Malebolge for creating schism, a division between people or beliefs, and was placed among the Sowers of Religious Discord.
Antwerp translator Lies Lavrijsen told local media that a number of lines relating to Muhammad’s appearance in hell were removed. The publisher later admitted that they were taken out to avoid causing offence.
The omission sparked outrage, especially as so many other people were included that could also cause offence to members of society.
Following the backlash, Dutch publisher Myrthe Spiteri said that Lavrijsen translated and edited Dante’s text with great respect, knowledge and skill.
Spiteri said: “The removal of the Prophet Muhammad has in no way detracted from this, but it did ensure that the story would not be unnecessarily offensive to readers who make up such a large part of Dutch and Flemish society.
“The fact that the passage is not necessary for understanding the literary text was decisive.”
Spiteri told the Belgian newspaper De Standaard: “In Dante’s work, Muhammad suffers a crude and humiliating fate just because he is the forerunner of Islam.
“The thieves and murderers in Dante’s hell have committed real mistakes, however establishing a religion cannot be considered reprehensible. Dante also puts homosexuals in hell, but that was because Christianity felt that way unlike today. And Dante writes very respectfully about them.”
Dante lived from 1265 to 1321. The Divine Comedy describes a fictional walk through the three realms of afterlife, hell, purgatory and paradise.
Arab political activist and author Dyab Abou Jahjah, 49, said on Twitter: “Do you know what’s hurtful? That they want to disfigure a historical work, Dante’s inferno, and change its authentic version to “not hurt” anyone. Nobody should read this book! It’s not constitutional. Woke meets fear of Jihadists. Weak.”
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