Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dutch Bible Museum Opens "House of Koran"

A famous Roman Catholic museum in the Hague is expanding its focus after a large donation from a Middle Eastern country:

THE HAGUE, 22/08/07 - The former Open Air Bible Museum near Nijmegen has received 500,000 euro in subsidy from oil state Oman. With this, the museum will expand to include a House of Koran.

The Open Air Bible Museum recently changed its name to Museumpark Orientalis. Along with its name, the museum’s objective has changed. Formerly a traditional Catholic pilgrim’s place, the museum is now to be transformed to an ‘intercultural museum’ for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In January of next year, the open-air museum in the village of Heilig Landstichting near Nijmegen is to receive 500,000 euro from the Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman, Khadija Al-Lawat for the construction of the House of Koran. A museum spokesperson yesterday stated that there are also plans for a House of Mohammed and a “museum mosque”.

Oman and the museum management wish to demonstrate that The Netherlands holds “ample opportunities for intercultural cooperation”. According to a statement, they believe in “a society where cohesion and trust is stronger than mistrust and sometimes even hate”.

In 2011, Museumpark Orientalis also hopes to have constructed a House of Jesus, a House of Moses, a Bible House, a Tenach House, a Jerusalem House, a House of Meetings and a Spiritual Garden. First, however, it has to win a legal procedure instigated by Bishop Hurkmans of Den Bosch, who wants the museum to restrict itself to Christianity.

The museum was originally a pilgrim’s place for Roman Catholics. In 2002, Bishop Hurkmans sent its management home in an attempt to block the switch to multiculturalism. At the time, a museum spokesman however said the financially ailing museum would probably not survive if the switch and the subsidies accompanying it were called off.