Norway denies Irving a platform

By Craig Silver, October 24, 2008

A wave of protest has resulted in an invitation to the convicted Holocaust denier David Irving to a literary festival in Norway being withdrawn.

Irving was jailed in Austria and banned from entering several countries because of his claims that the gas chambers in Auschwitz were fake.

Organisers of the Norwegian Festival of Literature withdrew its invitation to Irving to be the inaugural speaker at the event, due to take place in Lillehammer next May. He had been scheduled to speak on the 2009 festival theme: Truth.

As a result, Stig Sæterbakken, who was in charge of the artistic content of the festival, resigned. He was reported to have said that it would be good for the festival if Irving took part.

However, Odd Bjorn Fure, director of the Norwegian Holocaust Centre in Oslo, said: "I consider it a major failure and demonstration of bad judgment by the festival organisers to have invited Irving.

"It has been demonstrated in London that he had no credibility as a serious historical writer, and it's a total catastrophe to invite someone who has committed falsifications to sustain allegations and opinions about history.

"I have criticised the organisers for involving him, for the extreme consequences it might cause. I have no objection to him being there, but he will be met by the critical views of civilised society."

There were strong reactions when it became known that Irving had been invited to the festival. Many authors warned that they would pull out if he remained on the programme.

The free speech organisation, Fritt Ord, was also among the critics, and wanted its logo removed from the
festival's advertising material.

But the festival director, Randi Skeie, said that Irving had been invited precisely because he denies the truth and falsifies history.

"Initially, we wanted to expose Irving but then the issue became a question of free speech. Everything is fine as long as everyone agrees, but things get more difficult when one doesn't like the views being put forward."


Last updated: 12:21pm, October 23 2008