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University of Groningen honours writer Kader Abdolah with an honorary doctorate

28 October 2008

During the celebrations of its 395th birthday next year, the University of Groningen will award an honorary doctorate to the writer Kader Abdolah on 5 June 2009. According to the proposal, with this doctoraat honoris causa the university will be honouring ‘a writer who consciously straddles two worlds, wants to show the mild face of Islam and in this way contribute to the current public debate about religion in the public sphere’. Kader Abdolah is writer-in-residence at the University of Groningen this academic year.

Kader Abdolah, the pseudonym of Hossein Sadjadi Ghaemmaghami Farahani (Iran, 1954), studied physics in Teheran. He formed part of the political opposition during the rule of the Shah and the rule of the Ayatollahs. In 1985 he fled Iran and settled in the Netherlands as a political refugee. Here he continued to write, something he had begun in Iran.

In his books, Kader Abdolah takes the Dutch reader back to the land of his birth. In an interview with the Alumni paper Broerstraat 5 of the University of Groningen he described the reasons behind writing Het huis van de moskee [The house of the mosque] as follows. ‘Many Dutch people know too little about Islam and about Iran. That’s why I let the camera sweep and take them with me, so that 16 million people can see what it looks like behind the curtains’. He had a similar aim with De Koran and De boodschapper [The Koran and The Messenger]. ‘You have regarded the Koran as a terrible book for a long time, without knowing what you were talking about. By telling stories about it, I am trying to change the way society thinks.’

The proposal for the honorary doctorate states that ‘Kader Abdolah has succeeded like no other in showing a different face of Islam to a wider audience’. ‘De Koran and De boodschapper are again a completely unique contribution to our knowledge of and the integration of Islam in the West. With this combination of a translation of the source text and a biography of the author, Kader Abdolah is returning the classic text of a religion and its founder to a context of time and space. On the one hand, this means a relativization of the history of its creation and on the other a deep understanding of the boundaries and possibilities of religion as it is experienced.

Note for the press

More information: University of Groningen Communication Office, tel. 050-363 4444, e-mail:

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.26 p.m.

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