Report by Syed Sibtain Shah
The Islamic Council of Norway (IRN), the combined recognized entity of Muslims’ mosques and religious centers may face hardships specially financial crisis due to rising differences among the its members. “Niqab” is one of the causes of the differences which has been already raised at Norwegian Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
It is important to mention that the Norwegian Muslim umbrella organization (IRN) has hired a woman who wears the full face-covering niqab as an official for communication with the government departments, documentations, application’s writing, and IT operations.
Differences among the members of IRN and the appointment of 32-year-old Leyla Hasic as an administrative consultant by IRN) has already caused suspension of a part of amount of grants allocated by government for this organization.
Some of the Norwegian politicians have criticized Hasic’s appointment, saying it won’t contribute to improving dialogue between Muslims and the rest of society.
Appointment of the social icon Mahtab Afsar as secretary of the IRN was also a matter of serious concern for some of the members of board of the organization but this opposition was dismissed by general assembly of the council some time ago. On other hand, Nortura which provides 1.5 million Norwegian Kroner annually to IRN for certification of Halal food, also warned the council on the issues. The Islamic Council Norway issues the lawful meat certificates to Nortura’s meat product and on return IRN receives sum of 1.5 million kroner annually.Recent media reports revealed that IRN also received half a million kroner for initiatives aimed at improving dialogue between Muslim communities and the rest of society. Norway’s born the Islamic Council, IRN’s secretary Mahtab Afsar who has Pakistani background, has been called by the ministry of culture affairs for explanation on the issues.
He will meet the concerned officials of the ministry on coming Thursday. The Ministry of Culture provides more than two and half million kroner annually to IRN.It is important to mention that currently Mahtab Afsar is one of the leading and most active figure of Islamic Council Norway and mostly he appears in different official and non-official forums on the behalf of the council. The difference among the members of the board of the Islamic Council and issue of appointment of a lady with niqab at the council have been already appeared in the Norwegian media. Some of the governmental authorities have also expressed their concerns in the context.
The Islamic Council Norway (IRN) is an umbrella organization for Islamic religious communities and organizations including mosques in Norway. IRN currently represents 42 member organizations spread throughout the country, and these in turn have more than 82,000 Muslims as members. The council consists of representatives of member nominees who elect a board every two years. The board consists of chairman, deputy chairman, secretary, financial controller and committee members. In addition, IRN has some employees at its secretariat.
Objectives of IRN is to take initiatives for the Muslims to live in accordance with Islamic teachings in Norwegian society and help build a Norwegian-Muslim identity in this Scandinavian county. Promote cohabitation among Muslims in Norway and safeguard member organizations’ rights and interests are also aims of the council.
Officials of the council said, be bridge builders and dialogue partners that create mutual understanding and respect between Muslims and non-Muslims in Norway, with regard to religion, culture and moral values.
There are diverse opinions of the leading figures of Muslim society in Norway on the issues of IRN.
A Norwegian Pakistani Mohammad Tariq who has a profound understanding of affairs of people of foreign background in Norway, Says, if IRN does not accurate its affairs, It would have more challenges in near future.
Meanwhile, Mr Ali Asghar Shahid who is active in the Norwegian Pakistan Muslim society said, there is a hope that IRN would be able to resolve its issues within the council and as well as its external challenges.