Between Desert and City: Building Churches in the Arabian Peninsula
Church building is a controversial issue in the Arabian Peninsula. Churches should, in principle, be built in such as a way as to be unrecognizable as churches. Although generally built on land donated by the royal families, all churches are subject to restrictions regarding location and architecture and ordinances against making sounds. But why such a paradoxical policy?
Why subsidize churches and yet submit them to restrictions making them “invisible?” What do such anonymized churches really look like? Differing views among both Christians and Muslims concerning which architectural elements actually transform a building into a church nevertheless allow space for creative use of some Christian symbols.
Berit Thorbjørnsrud is professor at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo.
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This lecture is organized by the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.