Temenos - Nordic Journal for the Study of Religion https://journal.fi/temenos <p><em>Temenos - Nordic Journal for the Study of Religion</em> (previously Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion) is published by <a href="http://uskontotiede.fi/en/">the Finnish Society for the Study of Religion</a>. The journal was founded in 1965 as a joint publication with the learned societies of Comparative Religion in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to promote the research and communication of ideas between scholars. Temenos publishes scholarly articles, academic discussions, conference reports, book reviews and thematic issues within the field of the study of religion and culture.<br /><br />Temenos is peer reviewed open access journal. In the Finnish Publication rating system it has been rated on top level (3). We are currently in the process of digitizing back issues, and past articles will be published in the archives section of this website as the project progresses. 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This agreement will be governed by the laws of Finland.</li> </ul> sofia.sjo@abo.fi (Sofia Sjö) lekautto@ulapland.fi (Editorial Secretary, MA Leila Kautto, University of Lapland) Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 OJS 3.2.1.4 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss 60 From Blasphemy to Sacrilege https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/142815 <p style="font-weight: 400;">Qur’an burnings have come to constitute a subculture in Scandinavia. Why have they focused on sacrilege against Islam’s scripture, while blasphemy against its prophet still dominates polemics in other parts of Europe? This essay traces the emergence of blasphemy as the principal form in which such polemics occur to colonial India. It shows how critics there tried to attribute Muslim protests against insults to Muhammad with a religious language they seemed to be missing. With its globalization after the Cold War, this debate about blasphemy was taken up in Europe. But in the Nordic countries it has been replaced with sacrilege as a way of rehearsing the religious element that remains absent from Muslim demonstrations of offence against alleged insults to Islam.</p> Faisal Devji Copyright (c) 2024 Faisal Devji https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/142815 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 Thijl Sunier: Making Islam Work: Islamic Authority among Muslims in Western Europe https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/145627 <p>Book review of Thijl Sunier: Making Islam Work: Islamic Authority among Muslims in Western Europe. Leiden: Brill, 2023, 317 pp.</p> <h2 class="label"> </h2> Tuomas Martikainen Copyright (c) 2024 Tuomas Martikainen https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/145627 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 Séamas Ó Catháin: The Festival of Brigit: Celtic Goddess and Holy Woman https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/145675 <p>Book review of Séamas Ó Catháin: The Festival of Brigit: Celtic Goddess and Holy Woman. Dublin: Phaeton Publishing, 2023 (2nd edition), 296 pp.</p> Katja Ritari Copyright (c) 2024 Katja Ritari https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/145675 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 Molly H. Bassett and Natalie Avalos (eds): Indigenous Religious Traditions in 5 Minutes https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/145662 <p>Book review of Molly H. Bassett and Natalie Avalos (eds): Indigenous Religious Traditions in 5 Minutes. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing, 2022, 278 pp.</p> Liudmila Nikanorova Copyright (c) 2024 Liudmila Nikanorova https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/145662 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 A Burning Affair https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/137982 <p>In this special issue of Temenos we wish to draw attention to and provide a contextualization and analysis of the burnings of the Qur’an that have taken and continue to take place in the Nordic context in recent years. Although many countries still have blasphemy laws or laws against religious hatred that protect ‘religion’ (however defined) or religious sensibilities from being desecrated or mocked, most Western countries, including Sweden and Norway, have removed blasphemy laws and made it possible to offer a critique of religion, including the right to criticize religious texts. While several articles in this special issue discuss the contemporary practice of public rituals where a physical copy of the Qur’an is burnt, we argue that understanding why this practice has become so widespread in the Nordic region requires a historical awareness of how both blasphemy and the freedoms of religion and expression have been understood and practised in this very specific cultural and political environment in the far corners of Europe.</p> Göran Larsson, Iselin Frydenlund, Torkel Brekke Copyright (c) 2024 Göran Larsson, Iselin Frydelund, Torkel Brekke https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/137982 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 Ignited by the Qur’an https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136706 <p>The Danish lawyer and politician Rasmus Paludan has gained notoriety for filming and uploading footage of demonstrations and burning copies of the Qur’an, first in 2019 in Denmark and later in Sweden. Based on videos and material from social and conventional media, this article investigates the background and political and legal opportunity structures of Paludan’s activism. It argues that Paludan’s actions are situated in reference to broader debates on freedom of expression in general and understanding of blasphemy in particular. Paludan’s treatment of the Qur’an resembles a global injustice symbol (Olesen 2015; 2016). The symbol becomes global in nature when it resonates cross-nationally and cross-culturally. In 2023, as the symbol spread to the global public sphere, the Danish government decided to introduce a blasphemy clause that had been repealed five years previously. This underlines Sherwood’s argument that blasphemy has made a paradoxical return as a contested global category in the twenty-first century.</p> Lene Kühle Copyright (c) 2024 Lene Kühle https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136706 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 Ritual Dynamics of Qur’an Burning https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136453 <p>In this article I approach Qur’an burning from the perspective of ritual studies. By conducting a discourse analysis of a YouTube video of a Qur’an burning, I argue that it can be perceived as a ritualized performance that communicates a variety of meanings to a variety of audiences. On one hand, the burning demarcates between ‘us’ and a Muslim ‘them’, thus serving to construct an ingroup identity. On the other, Muslims are constructed as a barbaric threat against which a civilized man is justified to use violence. To consolidate intergroup boundaries most effectively, Qur’an burning must be conducted within a community or preferably broadcast to a wide audience. Even when broadcast online, however, the act needs to involve a physical book. Consequently, both online and offline aspects are important for the ritualization of Qur’an burning.</p> Teemu Pauha Copyright (c) 2024 Teemu Pauha https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136453 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 The Qur’an Burnings of SIAN https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136888 <p>Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have in recent years seen a wave of Qur’an burnings, a subset of Qur’an desecration, involving largely non-religious fringe actors. Desecrations of the Qur’an are nothing new, but their mode of articulation in the present requires attention to both context and the actors involved. In this article we examine the Qur’an-burning events of the Norwegian organization Stop the Islamisation of Norway (SIAN). The article draws on media events theory, paying attention to how the symbolic and ritual dimensions of such spectacular mediated events generate both cohesion and conflict among globalized audiences. Informed by both on- and offline ethnographic fieldwork, we explore the mediated ritualization of smaller-scale urban events involving staged Qur’an burnings by this far-right fringe group in Norway in recent years. We demonstrate how a relatively small and marginal far-right political actor succeeds in being foregrounded by the media, creating polarization, capturing free speech, and racializing Muslims by desecrating the Qur’an.</p> Marius Linge, Sindre Bangstad Copyright (c) 2024 Marius Linge, Sindre Bangstad https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136888 Tue, 02 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0300 ‘But it’s really about …’ https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136707 <p>This article examines the Norwegian media coverage of and public debate about a series of anti-Muslim demonstrations in which Qur’ans were burned in Sweden and Norway over the Easter of 2022. Conceptualizing Qur’an burnings and the ensuing riots in Sweden and Norway as a media event, the article explores how different actors manage, negotiate, and use the mediated attention constituting such an event. The empirical material consists of all articles published by ten selected Norwegian newspapers between 14 and 30 April 2022, as well as interviews with seven journalists from these newspapers. A key point the article makes is that news journalists are mindful of how they cover and frame such an event. They take steps to ensure that their coverage accords with professional journalistic standards. The analysis shows, however, that the media coverage is complex and multi-layered, and that news journalists’ managing strategies only influence a small part of the total coverage and debate. A media event is by its nature discursive, and the article discusses how the event’s ‘real meaning’ is contested as various actors within and outside the media reframe it to fit already established discourses. </p> Audun Toft Copyright (c) 2024 Audun Toft https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136707 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 Rasmus Paludan, Burning of the Qur’an and Swedish Media https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136834 <p style="font-weight: 400;">This article scrutinizes the public debate in Sweden that followed the heated riots that took place when Rasmus Paludan burned the Qur’an in the spring of 2022. The Easter holiday in 2022, which coincided with Ramadan, served as the backdrop for the Danish-Swedish provocateur Rasmus Paludan. Our study is based on a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of 60 public opinion pieces published between 24 and 30 April 2022, one week after the so-called Easter riots. The Swedish media at this time featured many different responses to the burning of the Qur’an, as well as strong public opinions about how the riots were dealt with, and why the riots erupted in the first place. We argue that the discussion that followed Paludan’s public rallies in Sweden unfolds a dilemma between freedom of speech on the one hand and freedom of religion on the other. By deploying critical discourse analysis, this study helps us observe the discursive orders that regulated the debate and identify recurring topics and tropes in public media. The overall results indicate that the riots are mainly viewed as the result of a failed multicultural policy in which Islam is discussed as an obstacle to liberal democracy and thus freedom of speech. Material reasons – poverty, unemployment, and racism – are largely omitted from the debate.</p> Göran Larsson, Christer Mattsson Copyright (c) 2024 Göran Larsson, Christer Mattsson https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136834 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300 New Atheism and the Criticism of Islam https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136734 <p>One of the ideas in the debates concerning anti-Islamic activities is that atheists, especially prominent celebrity atheists – commonly known as ‘New Atheists’ – have provided support and justification for anti-Islamic attitudes and activities. Given that Sam Harris, one of the so-called New Atheists, stated that he started writing his first book, <em>The End of Faith</em> (2004), immediately after the 9/11 attacks, criticism of Islam is expected to be prevalent among some atheists. The more interesting questions, however, concern what kind of criticism there is, how to make sense of its reasons and motivations, whether it dominates the New Atheist agenda (as some argue), and whether the criticism has been somehow influential in various localities. In examining New Atheist publications and their possible presence at the local level, particularly in Finland, this article suggests that an exceptionally pronounced anti-Islamic approach applies mainly to Harris rather than to New Atheism as a whole. Instead, several other significant aspects come into play, highlighted by other New Atheists, and this is largely true of local atheist activism too. Thus, while a weak link between New Atheists and anti-Islamic activities can be made because of their promotion of strong criticism of religion, New Atheism is not the key to understanding such activities, at least in the Finnish context.</p> Teemu Taira Copyright (c) 2024 Teemu Taira https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/136734 Mon, 17 Jun 2024 00:00:00 +0300