Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Borrow a Muslim from the Library




Say what you want about the cartoons, but this idea is at least original. I found this article in Swedish, but no English version, so I will paraphrase it as well as I can, with my own commentary mixed in. The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported on March 12, 2005, that the
Blågården library in Copenhagen has started a program inteded to explain misunderstandings and promote cultural exchange, through which a Dane can go to the library and, in essence, check out a Muslim for an hour (over coffee paid for by the library). Although the program advertises this service in a tongue in cheek humoristic way, the intent behind it is rather serious.


For Scandianvians, strangely enough, this is probably a good option. Although the Danes are considered the more extoverted than other Scandinavians, the lot of them are usually a bit reserved. On top of that, it is pretty common that Scandinavians and immigrants live in almost separate spheres of existence within the same country. (Of course, individual cases are different, but on average, especially places like Finland). This library system seems to bypass both of these problems. Danes can ask questions and find out more about Muslims and Islam from a real-live Muslim, without having to go through formalities of small talk, afraid to offend. The point of the meeting is education, question, information, view-points, so things go straight to the point. It makes it easier to actually, meaningfully have a discussion with a person you might not otherwise be able to meet, or be shy to ask questions of.

"I believe I have gotten many to let go of their prejudices," says Ali Nicolaisen, 35, the resident Muslim at the library.

"He is tops," said the library chief Ågot Berger. "He is more popular than our most checked-out books...There was such a high demans especially on muslims, that we have had to contact several more to participate." The library also plans on loaning out a Swede, a policeman, a Danish priest, an Arab etc., but the Muslim is the most sought after so far.

Concluding thoughts: Just as Muslims on the extreme fringe get all the publicity, so do the crazy right wingers in Europe. The rest of us, however, can check each other out at the library.

via Scandarabia

95 Comments:

Blogger Stellar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

14 March, 2006 08:35  
Blogger Stellar said...

That is the funniest thing I heard or I should say read about this matter... I love the idea... I think they should do this Internationally.

14 March, 2006 08:37  
Blogger Lilly said...

i love the idea!

14 March, 2006 09:23  
Blogger Helena said...

It is a great idea! It is a little bit strange however, that people hardly communicate with eachother, in the streets, shops.. why don't they visit a shop, owned by a "stranger" (muslim) and ask questions they always wanted to know (about muslims)..

But I notice this also: there are also gaps between rich people and poor people (in every country and all over the world).

14 March, 2006 22:16  
Blogger Shannon said...

This is a fabulous idea! It would be so much fun!

I also think it's strange that we can't communicate in the streets, but a Library is a place where we can go to seek knowledge, open our minds...if I ask any stranger in a shop (be they muslim or not) a personal question, it could misinterpreted as an insult or a manipulation.

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