Monday, 12 December 2016

Mahomet/Muhammed in hell in Bologna

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I have been very busy and am terribly behind with the blog. I have not written my crystalline insights on the Romanian election result nor an account of my trip to Bologna for the Romanian holiday last week. November 30 is now a public holiday 
in Romania in addition to the National Day, December 1, so everyone took Friday, December 2 off.

Romania has now decreed another new public holiday next year - 
Tuesday, January 24. The people in charge of Romania do seem to lack common sense.

Bologna with its long colonnades, like paintings by Chirico, is lovely and reminds one of the time when Europe was civilised, but I was also reminded of what American historian Jeremy Friedman said to me when we found ourselves sharing a compartment in a night train from Bucharest to Belgrade. He said that, unlike big American and Chinese cities, all European cities seemed to him museums, except for London.


A certain number of African beggars were in the street. My instinct was to give them money but I reluctantly stopped myself doing so, because I reflected that this is a sort of invasion. Actually, not a sort of invasion, an invasion. They are not fleeing war, but poverty.

Bologna is famed in Italy for very good food more than churches, but it has some fine ones. I was saddened to think that these great churches were built for the Tridentine Mass and its predecessors and are used to celebrate a very different kind of liturgy, an almost Protestant one. We admire the buildings, but without the liturgy the buildings lack their heart.

The great sight in Bologna is not the cathedral but St. Petronius's Basilica. And the best thing in it is the Chapel of the Three Magi. Here are my pictures of the wonderful wall painting.






The dead body left of and one inch above Satan's head is Mahomet/Mahommed being tormented by some devil. A friendly Turkish tourist whom I met in the church, who said that he was a soldier employed to guard Turkish embassies, told me that there had been two attempts by Islamists in 2002 and 2006 to destroy it.




The nice elderly Austrian lady who sold tickets to the Chapel downplayed this but she seemed to me like the kind of person who would, like an Austrian equivalent of a British Liberal Democrat. 

On the internet the Turk's story was confirmed.

Outside, across the piazza, were two soldiers with machine guns. The way we live now.



This is a story that appeared in The Times in June 2001.

MUSLIM leaders in Italy are demanding the removal or destruction of a priceless 15th century fresco in Bologna that they say offends Islam by showing the Prophet Muhammad being cast into the flames of Hell.

The row over The Last Judgement by Giovanni da Modena, in Bologna Cathedral, could threaten the already strained relations between the Roman Catholic church and members of Italy's Muslim community.

The recently established Union of Italian Muslims has written to the Pope and Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, the outspoken conservative Archbishop of Bologna, complaining that the fresco clearly shows Muhammad, the founder of Islam, among those condemned to burn in eternal flames.
The protesters said that Giovanni da Modena had shown Muhammad being "thrown into hell, completely naked, with a snake wrapped around his body and a demon next to him about to torture him."

In the letter they called for the "barbarous" fresco to be removed from the wall of the Bolognini chapel, inside the 14th century cathedral of San Petronio. 

Adel Smith, head of the Union of Italian Muslims, appealed to the thousands of Italian Muslim residents of Bologna to attend a rally outside the main mosque in Rome today
That was fifteen years ago. This morning 'The rise of Islamophobia in Europe - and how we can deal with it' is the headline on one of the main articles in the leading British conservative quality paper, the Daily Telegraph, a paper once supposedly read my mauve faced reactionary retired majors.

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