Celebrated German-Iranian scholar of Islamic Sciences, novelist, essayist and journalist Navid Kermani was denied Hesse’s highest cultural award, the Kulturpreis. As he tells us, he was second choice anyway after Professor Fuad Sezgin, Director of the Institute of Arabic-Islamic Sciences at Frankfurt University, who had been nominated first, had already declined; allegedly because of some statements made by Salomon Korn, Vice President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and another laureate, on Israel’s war in Gaza.
After Kermani had accepted the award, definitely too quickly but bona fide, the other two awardees, Karl Cardinal Lehmann and the former President of the Protestant Church of Hesse-Nassau Peter Steinacker declined next, owing to Kermani. Allegedly, because he (Kermani) had described his emotions when contemplating a painting of the crucified Christ by Guido Reni (d. 1642) in such a positive way that one indeed may doubt his good Muslim faith. However, of course is the crucifix the main reason for the schism in monotheism. Of course must Muslims consider worshipping the crucified Christ as idolatry. This is THE DIFFERENCE. What one faction considers the holiest expression of piety is for the other pure blasphemy. By definition.
Nothing is wrong with the decisions of these honorable men, except the insistence on fundamentalist religious dogmas and childish bossiness. One might advise these ignoble laureates to scrutinize their own level of tolerance first before frivolously accepting awards which they might not really deserve.
See also on this blog
Almost a Revelation. Some thoughts after reading Navid Kermani’s Der Schrecken Gottes.