Earlier this week a debate broke out after representatives of as well the Norwegian Islamic Council as the Norwegian court of law said they might be open for a national sharia council, judging in family matters. A number of politicians, as well as Muslim representatives, has spoken against such an institution. Foreign minister Jonas Gahr Störe says everyone is to apply to the same laws in Norway, and that a separate family law for Muslims would have a negative effect on integration.
Muhammad Abdulhamid, Linda Noor and Basim Ghozlan, editors of islam.no repudiate Trond Ali Linstad’s “Muslim Manifest” of January 25.
They ask Linstad who has given him the authority to speak for Muslims in Norway, and say he represents no one but himself. The manifest, they continue, is a patchwork of incoherent statements, and most readers must understand this is meant as a provocation.
Islam is, they continue, fully consistent with democracy, and it is worth noting that the Norwegian Islamic Council (IRN) strongly has urged Muslims to participate in parliamentary elections and that this call was actively supported by a number of key mosques and Muslim organizations in Norway. This they holds as proof of a great support for democracy among Muslims in Norway and that Linstad’s condescending attitude is not representative.
They find Linstad most unclear in his account of the relationship between the Norwegian government and God’s rights. Also in this matter they second the opinion of the Islamic Council, that Muslims should relate to both God and government, and that there is no conflict between them.
Finally, as a response both to Linstad and the last couple of weeks debate on moral and social control in the neighbourhood of Grönland in Oslo they present their own, short manifest, which states that good Muslims should:
-Focus on their own religious commitments.
-Respect people with different beliefs and ways of life.
-Fulfill all their obligations to their fellow beings.
-Be reliable and an example to follow.
-Not accept injustice done against others.
-Contribute actively to community building.
The Liberal Muslim network LIM (Equality, Integration, Diversity) supports the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and challenges the Norwegian Islamic Council (Islamisk Råd) and the Muslim Student Organization (Muslimsk Studentersamfunn) to join them in a manifestation against religious violence and in support of the freedom of speech.
LIM representatives say conservative Muslims and organizations, such as the Islamic Council and MSO dominates Norwegian media and help create an image of Islam in Norway as traditionalist and lacking respect for democratic values.
Shakil Rehman from LIM is also critical of the Vice President of the Norwegian Parliament, Akhtar Choudhry, for calling the publication of Westergaards cartoons wrong. It’s not wrong, Rehman says, it’s just a manifestation of an opinion. Muslim leaders opposing the publications live in another time and age, he continues, Muhammad opposed portraits of him because he didn’t want his followers to idolize him, but to paint his portrait to depict his humanity is in compliance with his teachings.