Norwegian Ombudswoman for serious action against anti-Muslim sentiments in the country

Norwegian Ombudswoman Ms Hanne Bjurstrøm
Norwegian Ombudswoman Ms Hanne Bjurstrøm


Report by Syed Sibtain Shah

The Norway’s Ombudswoman for Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination has asked the country’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg to take serious action in order to stop hatred against the Muslims in the country.
Islam in Norway is second largest religion of this Nordic  country after Christianity. Total population of the Muslims in Norway as per registered members of the mosques and other Islamic centres is 121,095 people where with 40,000 people, Norwegian Pakistani community is largest Muslims group in the country.
Muslims are 3.8% of the total 5 million population of the Norway and beside the Norwegian Pakistanis, there are people from Somali, Iraqi, Iranian origins among the many other Muslim communities in Norway.
According to Norwegian magazine “Klass Kampen”, the Ombudswoman Ms Hanne Bjurstrøm asked the Prime Minister that Norway needs an action plan in order to address the issue of hate against the Muslims.
Praising the  policy of action plan against anti-Semitism, she said, we need a equivalent plan for addressing hatred against Muslims.
She revealed that a collection of 16 different organizations working for different groups exposed the discrimination and harassment against the Muslims in the country.
A separate action plan against Muslims’ hatred is one of the requirements in the country. “We are in a situation in this country where there are many prejudices and negative attitudes against people of Muslim background,” she says.
Expressed concerned over the net based hate speeches and controversial debates and as well as rising developments in the political climate, the ombudswoman has announced a conference on the issue late November.
Addressing the government for appropriate measures, the Ombudswoman has called for a better enforcement of the law against hate crimes by the police and an increased awareness of possible consequences of hate crimes and targeting people because of their religion.
“In Norway, it is believed that this should not be happened. It’s wrong. There are many examples of such crimes. The occurrence of physical and mental violence against this group must be addressed. We tend to think to make everything so good and we prove, we are so kind to each other in the society, “she says.
Regarding the Ombudswoman’s complaint, Sigbjørn Aanes, State Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, writes in an e-mail to Klassekampen magazine that he does not know what is the basis for Hanne Bjurstrøm’s claim.
“The Prime Minister has repeatedly addressed this issue on several occasions, last at the National Integration Conference on 27 September,” he writes.
Mr. Sigbjørn Aanes, State Secretary at the Norway's Prime Minister's Office
Mr. Sigbjørn Aanes, State Secretary at the Norway’s Prime Minister’s Office
In her speech at the conference, PM Erna Solberg said that she experienced the debate in the election campaign as “harder than before” and waived that youth “is threatened or bullied with silence”.
Regarding the proposal for action plan against anti-Muslim sentiments, he refers to the government’s action plan against hateful expressions. “It covers all groups, including those with different religious connections,” he writes.
Some people believe that some of the political groups also exploit the racism for the political objectives. Through the elements gained their specific interests but society suffers because of the hate speeches.
Some time, Media specially social media also play a role for spreading such speeches. Growing strength of Muslims in Norway especially recent waves of the Muslim refuges from Syria and Iraq is also one of the factors for worse situation.
A recent survey conducted by Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute (NUPI) revealed, four out of ten Norwegians believe that refugees and migrants constitute a major threat to Norway. Around 44 percent of respondents say that these two groups pose a major threat to Norway, reports Norwegian TV NRK.
Some of the racist groups in Norway also fuel the aggravated condition. For example, a group namely Human Right Services Norway has been accused for spreading hate against Muslims in Norway. The group which secures an annual grant of 1.8 million Norwegian crone for its activities was in debate in political circles in the recent weeks. Through, there were complaints against the group but the Norwegian government decided to continue its annual financial grant.

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