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.