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The Forbidden Lounge

The Norwegian Constitution of 1814 ensures the right of freedom of expression. «The Forbidden Lounge» exhibits books and other media that have been banned or suppressed despite these noble ideals. Twelve writers now living in Norwegian Cities of Refuge share their stories about the price they have paid for using their freedom of expression. The Forbidden Lounge is a place to relax and reflect about freedom and censorship.

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The Forbidden Lounge. Photo: Museum of Cultural History, UiO / Kirsten Jensen Helgeland

Learn more about the history of censorship on the web-site “Beacon of Freedom of Expression”, using our Ipads.  Or hear musicians explain why they censor themselves.  You can also read censored literature, books discussing the current state of freedom of expression.

It is necessary for the welfare of society that genius should be privileged to utter sedition, to blaspheme, to outrage good taste, to corrupt the youthful mind, and generally to scandalize one's uncles.

– George Bernard Shaw

Freedom of expression has limited my freedom of movement.

 – Amal Aden, 2013

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Meet Cities of Refuge Writers in the museum (at 17:30)

Thousands of writers are imprisoned or persecuted as a result of their work and some are silenced for ever. For this reason, a number of cities have declared themselves as Cities of Refuge. Here persecuted writers can find a safe haven and express themselves without censorship or fearing for their lives. There are more than forty Cities of Refuge in the world and twelve of these are in Norway.

  • 10 September: Abduallahi Muhiaddin, cartoonist and journalist Somalia/Skien
  • 17 September: Kareem Amer, blogger and political activist, Egypt/Bergen
  • 24 September: Asieh Amini, poet and human rights activist, Iran/Trondheim
  • 8 October: Basim Mardan, writer and journalist, Iraq/Skien
  • 15 October: Dessale Berekhet Abraham, writer and journalist, Eritrea/Bø
  • 22 October: Kosar Fattahi, Iranian Kurdistan/Oslo

My Pen Is Sharper than Their Swords!

– City of Refuge writer Dessale Berekhet

The Forbidden Lounge was made with contributions from The National Library, ICORN, Norwegian PEN, the Freedom of Expresssion Foundation, Freemuse, Communicatio Forlag, Universitetsforlaget, Cappelen Damm and Fagbokforlaget.

Find out more about censorship and freedom of speech!

By Martin Hager-Saltnes
Published Mar. 20, 2014 2:36 PM - Last modified Feb. 9, 2021 10:58 AM