Terror threats against Norway

During the Muhammed cartoon reprint demonstrations last Friday, Mohyeldeen Mohammad from Larvik, Norway, (currently studying shari’a in Media, Saudi Arabia) spoke. Mohammad allegedly supported the stoning of homosexuals in his speech, and threatened Aftenposten. “When are the Norwegian authorities to understand this? Maybe not until it is to late. Maybe we’ll see a 9/11 or a 7/7 on Norwegian soil. This is not a threat, but a warning,” he also said. He also allegedly threatened to shoot, or stated that some people were coming to shoot, journalists who waited outside of his home in hope of getting an interview.

After the incident Mohammad is to have gone to the police to report the journalists, but was himself taken in to questioning. In a press conference the Norwegian police said they had searched his home without finding anything out of the ordinary. Mohammad is to have said the threat were a mistake, and that he didn’t know the people outside his house was journalists, but a mob wanting to hurt him.

We have seen a lot of tension in the last couple of weeks, and there is much speculation about how great the threat against Norway is. Politicians and Muslim representatives both are worried about the current situation. Minister of Justice, Knut Storberget, says there are signs of a radicalization amongst Muslims in Norway. Usman Rana, columnist in Aftenposten, is one of many Muslims who repudiate Mohyeldeen Mohammad’s opinions and calls for a “Norwegian interpretation” of Islam.

Pakistani protest against cartoon publications

The parliament of Pakistan and several Pakistani Muslim organizations protested against the decision of Norway’s Aftenposten to re-publish Kurt Westergaard’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in the publication.

Editor in chief Hilde Haugsgjerd says the protests were to be expected.

Muslim moral police roam Oslo streets (Norwegian)

In a series of articles, Aftenposten (an independent conservative publication) has debated moral and social control exercised by Muslim men in the neighborhood of Grønland in Norway’s capitol, Oslo.

Described as Oslo’s multicultural and “hip” neighborhood, but also where you find most “minarets and khatbuls”, Grønland is said to have developed into a “Muslim neighborhood”. Muslim women in western clothes are reported to be harassed by Muslim men on the street and told to cover up. Last autumn two gay men walking through Grønland holding hands were attacked, and non-Muslim women say they hesitate to visit the cafe’s and restaurants in Grønland.

Imam and chairman of Norway’s Islamic Council (Islamisk Råd), Senaid Koblicia, acknowledges the problem and encourages mosque representatives to acknowledge and work on the problem. “Social control is to be left to the police, and God alone knows who’s a good Muslim or not”, he says.

Najaham Farhan, spokesperson for Islamic Cultural Center in Grønland, responds to Imam Koblicia’s request and says that it’s a question of common manners and that people may become more attentive to the problem if it is to be addressed in the mosques.

Columnist Sara Azmeh Rasmussen, finally, calls for a more nuanced debate and accuses Norwegian media of focusing on Muslim stereotypes and conservative Muslims. Grønland’s Muslim population is just as diverse as any, she says, but the media focuses on women in burqas more than they do on secular Muslim women in western clothes.

Norwegian Aftenposten re-publishes the Danish cartoons

After a week of debate Aftenposten decided to re-publish the Danish cartoons Friday 8. The recent attack on cartoonist Kurt Westergaard brings the re-publication of the cartoons up tp date, says aftenpostens editor in chief Hilde Haugsgjerd. -We’ve all the time defended the right to publish the drawings, and we published a facsimile of them in the beginning of the conflict in 2005. When the conflict escalated and turned international in 2006 we refrained from publishing them.

Islam overshadows integration in Norwegian debate

In a contribution to a debate in Norwegian Aftenposten, Editor and Media Researcher Knut Olav Åmås writes that ethnic and religious minorities in Norway are being categorized – and tend to categorize themselves – in terms of their religious or ethnic belonging.

Columnists of Muslim background feel forced to discuss religious issues and claim to be manouvered in to a defense position. Åmås also reports that many Muslims feel reluctant to parttake in debates in fear of threats.

Knut Olav Åmås notice two voices amongst Muslim-Pakistani immigrants. One that claims the debate in Norway is conflict-oriented and promotes strong views and posts. But there are also warnings of an victim mentality amongst Norwegian Muslims.

By Norwegian standards, the large Pakistani immigrant minority is generally successful and economically well integrated. But maybe, Åmås says, they play an unproportionally big role in media. This leads to a debate where the issue of integration is overshadowed by discussions about Islam. Åmås calls for voices of other religious and ethnic minorities in Norway.