The Saladin Days 2012


The Crusader Rhetoric of Today

29. February 2012 - 3. March 2012

Host: Litteraturhuset

From crusades to terror and jihad?
Eternal conflict or common past?
Is God and Allah the same?

Crusades. Templar knights. The Gates of Vienna. Holy war. Martyrdom. Words and phrases we know from an historical era by many people belived to belong precisely to history and not our own times. The events of the last decades has shown that is not the case.

This year’s International Saladin Days are held in the aftermath of the terrorist attack 7/22. Anders Behring Breivik’s political manifesto is pervaded with crusader rhetoric and historical references, seeking to embed his actions within an eternal perspective. But Behring Breivik is not alone in using this rhetoric. The struggle for Jerusalem is a point of reference for the jihadist movement, and has, gradually, seeped into public debate. George W. Bush caused a stir when he, in the aftermath of 9/11, referred to the concept of the crusade, and such references has been reiterated online, in newspapers, by politicians and academics ever since. The crusades has become part of our present time.

For this year’s International Saladin Days, we have invited religion researches, historians and writers from all over the world, to illuminate and discuss our contemporary crusader rhetoric and its central premise – the notion of an essential difference. Are Christianity and Islam really fundamentally different in their cultural and political histories, and if this is the case, in what does this difference consist?



Michael Sells is Professor of Islamic history and literature at Divinity School, University of Chicago. Among his books are Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations (2007) and The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia (1996). In 2003, he co-editored and contributed to the anthology The new Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy.

Bruce Lawrence is Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, and the author of the books Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age (1995) and Shattering the Myth: Islam Beyond Violence (2000). He is currently working on a book about Allah.

Shlomo Sand is Professor of history at Tel Aviv University and the author of the book The Invention of the Jewish People (2008), which was on the besteller list in Israel for more than 20 weeks.

Miriam Cooke is Professor in Arabic Literature at Duke University and the author of a number of books on Islam, gender and war, such as Women and the War Story (1996) and Women Claim Islam: Creating Islamic Feminism Through Literature (2001).

Sener Aktürk is a political scientist educated at the University of California, Berkeley, former Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard, and today an Assistant Professorat Istanbul’s Koç University.

Lisa Bjurwald is a journalist and a writer. For several years, she has been connected to the Swedish Anti-racist magazine Expo. I 2011, she published the book Europas skam. Rasister på frammarsj (t: The Disgrace of Europe. Racists Advancing), in which she gives an in-depth analysis of the growth of right-wing extremism in the Europe of today.

Dick Harrison is Professor of history at Lund Universtity, specializing in European Medieval history, and the author of a number of books, textbooks as well as historical novels. Recipient of the August Prize and the Clio Prize, Harrison is the editor in chief of the comprehensive series Sveriges Historia (t: The History of Sweden).