Am catching up on news from Denmark and came across an amusing report in the Danish daily Politiken ("Koranen bliver et hit under juletræet", or "The Quran a hit under the Christmas tree").
It reports that a new Danish translation of the Quran (by philosogist Ellen Wuff) was the surprise bestseller this Christmas.
In just one month, 5,000 copies were sold. To give you a sense of perspective keep in mind that Denmark’s population is less than 6 million and that those sales represents 50% of the book’s first run.
Half of them disappeared within a month. It reached the #2 slot on the Danish non-fiction bestseller list within two weeks of publication.
Lest there be any doubt about the purpose of these purchases, the proof is in the packaging (my translation):
Bookstore manager Maja Nordholm from Arnold Busck in Odense believes that the Quran is high on many people’s wish lists.
"The overwhelming majority of the Qurans we’ve sold are Christmas gifts. We known this because we’re gift-wrapping tons of them," she said.
The Jewish community is quite small in Denmark, so Channukah gifs are an unlikely explanation. Unless a lot of Danes are giving Winter Solstice gifts, the juletide trend is pretty unmistakable.
For what it’s worth, I bought books at this shop when I lived in and biked around Odense over a decade ago.
This isn’t really all that surprising, of course. Popular interest in (and conversions into) Islam spiked in America after 9/11. After all this cartoon madness, many Danes understandably want to get a better understanding of this mysterious religion that’s becoming increasingly prominent in their society.
The irony is delicious, though, given all the attacks on Islam seen in Denmark lately. Ho ho ho. (Or is it "hoo hoo hoo"?)