Muhammad Removed From a New Dutch Translation of Dante’s Inferno


Destroying history to avoid ‘unnecessary offense.’ The news has been quietly making the rounds in European news outlets, following an initial report by the newspaper De Standaard that was picked up subsequently by several French publications: a new translation of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, written between 1304 and 1307, is causing controversy following the translator’s alterations. Valeurs Actuelles reported that Lies Lavrijsen, who was tasked with the translation of the famous book by the Florentine poet, decided to remove any mention of Muhammad altogether, in a push to make the text more “more pleasant and accessible.” Speaking on the Belgian radio station Radio 1, she defended her exclusion, stating “a widest possible accessibility,” especially for “a younger audience,” as her justification. She added: “We knew that if we left this passage as it was written, we would have unnecessarily hurt a large part of the readers.” Lies Lavrijsen even reveals that the decision was made “in the tense period that saw the death of the teacher Samuel Paty in France.”

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