Denmark’s rebel poet Hassan gets prison for shooting

Yahya Hassan, the 20-year-old celebrity poet and one-time political candidate, was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Friday for shooting a 17-year-old in the foot.

Denmark's rebel poet Hassan gets prison for shooting
Yahya Hassan's lawyer said he was happy to just have the case over with. Photo: Kim Haugaard/Scanpix
Hassan, who rocketed to stardom upon the release of his self-titled collection of poems, was hit with a 40,000 kroner fine and had his car and motorcycle confiscated. 
Hassan has been in police custody since his March 21st arrest in Aarhus, which capped off a wild period in which the celebrity poet posted a serious of videos on Facebook appearing to show him in open and ongoing conflicts with immigrant gangs. 
Hassan became a controversial and outspoken figure in Denmark’s fraught debate on Islam and immigration upon the 2013 release of his poetry collection. It has sold more than 120,000 copies and made him the country’s best-selling debut poet. 
It also put him squarely in the cross hairs of Islamists and at the centre of a number of physical altercations. In November 2013, Hassan was assaulted in Copenhagen Central Station by a then 24-year-old man who attacked the poet for being an “infidel”. 
In March 2015, Hassan was found guilty of assault for an incident in Aarhus in which he allegedly punch a local man outside of a restaurant. The following month, he was once again attacked in Copenhagen. Two months later, he had a total of three police run-ins in the course of just one weekend
The poet campaigned for the newly founded National Party in last June’s general election in Denmark but was forced to resign from the party in February after he was arrested for driving under the influence of illegal drugs. 
Hassan did not appeal his sentence on Friday and his lawyer, Michael Juul Eriksen, said he was happy to have a sense of closure. 
“He was very happy and told me that we will accept it [the sentence],” Eriksen told news agency Ritzau, adding that he believes his client will be released after serving eight months since he has already spent so much time in police custody. 
Hassan’s publisher, Gyldendal, said it would continue to work with the poet. 
“It’s sad to think that Yahya Hassan will now be in prison. I don’t have any comment on the verdict itself, but it’s good that there is now a decision in the case,” Gyldendal’s literary director, Johannes Riis, told Ritzau. 
Riis said that the publisher has not received a manuscript for Hassan’s follow-up but “looks forward to reading it”.


Danish poet Yahya Hassan dead at 24

Danish-Palestinian bad-boy poet Yahya Hassan, who stormed on to Denmark's literary scene in 2013 and quickly became a household name, has died aged just 24, his publisher said Thursday.

Danish poet Yahya Hassan dead at 24
Yahya Hassan giving a reading last year. Photo: Ida Guldbaek Arentsen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP
The exact cause of his death on Wednesday has not been made public but police said they did not believe it was a criminal act.
“Twenty-four years. That's nothing, this is a catastrophe,” Simon Pasternak, head of publisher Gyldendal, said in an Instagram post. “I have known him, since he was 16 years, this brilliant boy with enormous talent.”
Police in Aarhus, the country's second largest city where Hassan lived, told local media that they had responded to reports of the death of a man in his mid-20s.
“Currently there is nothing in our investigation that indicates that this is a criminal act,” police spokesman Jakob Christiansen told newspaper BT.   
Hassan's debut poetry collection was printed in a record 120,000 copies after it was released in 2013, in a country where poetry collections are usually printed in the hundreds.
Writing in all capital letters without any punctuation, he used street slang and blunt word play to deliver a damning indictment of his parents' generation of immigrants who came to Denmark in the 1980s, describing domestic violence, benefit fraud and religious hypocrisy on the Aarhus housing estate where he grew up.
“Yahya insisted on not bending to anyone, he didn't want to be anyone's representative… He wanted to be himself,” Pasternak said.
Many young Danes of immigrant origin disliked Hassan for his negative views on their communities and their religion. In November 2013, he was assaulted in Copenhagen's main train station by a 24-year-old man previously convicted of trying to commit an act of terror.
In November 2019, Hassan released a follow up poetry collection, which like the first was named after himself, also to critical acclaim.
In between, he made headlines more for his rantings, his attempts to enter politics and his dealings with justice than for the quality of his writing.   
In 2016, he was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison for shooting a 17-year-old boy with a pistol, wounding the boy's foot and leg.