Changes

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Norway have changed a great deal the last years. The population has grown more than 10 percent in just a few years. Now we are 5.1 million people, 0.5 million more than in 2005. All this growth because of immigration, because Norwegians are like the rest of Western Europe, in decline. Immigrants now accounts for 15 percent of the population, in the capital Oslo, 31 percent, and for the third year in a row Muhammad is the most popular name for newborn boys. It used to be Per, or Ole.

These photos are from a walk in Oslo a short time back. That is a part of the city called Greenland (Grønland). “I can honestly say that when I walk through the streets of Greenland where I live, it does not feel as though I live in Norway,” wrote Mina Bai recently. She is a refugee from Iran living in Norway: “It feels more like it’s Norway that has been integrated into other cultures than that immigrants are integrated in Norway. Covered women, big halal banners, coffee and tea houses filled with men and with mosques collection consists only of men” (my translation).

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I took these pictures in March, and I must say it was a shock for me to not only see numerous women completely covered in niqab walking the streets, but also shops selling full cover for children. It was a shock because I have been supporting human rights and womens rights since an early age, and I live in a country that rank as one of the most equal countries in the world. Haven’t I heard that these things is a matter of free choice? Yes, absolutely, and I don’t belive it. In these matters I listen to feminists who knows better, like Egyptian Mona Eltahawy. In this brilliant interview with Al Jazeera she comment about niqabs: if somebody chooses to be a slave, am I supposed to support that choice, because they chose it?” You can read a transcript here.

Walking in this district of Oslo I passed four mosques in a matter of few minutes. That is also a big change. Norway have been a Christian country for 1000 years, and until 30-40 years ago it was more or less the only religion, except for a few Jews, a few atheists etc. In 1974 a group of 20-30 muslims of Pakistani origin established the first mosque in Norway, Islamic Culture Centre. Since then there are many, and about 200.000 muslims. In comparision there are about 1300 Jews in Norway.

But is it a problem? No religion is a problem for me. Religion is a personal matter as I see it, but it is of course also culture, history, communal rituals, and not the least: politics. And we have got our share of political Islam by these changes. And that is certainly a problem, a problem that large parts of the Norwegian society do not take seriously. Partly because they do not know enough, partly because the subject is not politically correct.

The Nordic countries, these small countries on the brinck of the North Pole are exporting Syria-bound jihadists. About 40-50 Norwegian jihadists have gone to Syria to fight for extremist groups, and at least six of them are believed to be killed. Last week we got news of two, among them Norwegian-Albanian Egzon Avdyli (25) who is said to have been killed fighting for the al-Qaeda-group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). When this was known a leader from The Islamic Council Norway, an organization for 43 mosques and muslim organizations in Norway, commented that “there is not a big difference between the combat training that Norwegian Muslims get in Syria, and the training given in the military service.” Well, that is not true. I would say it is the opposite: The military training given in Norway is to be able to defend a democracy if neccessary, while organizations like ISIL wants to abolish democracies and impose totalitarian rule.Some wants to start in the Western country they live in, like Anjem Choudary, a British islamist who also have followers in Scandinavia. In this video he talks about why there should be sharia laws in the UK.

Less than eights months ago about 70 innocent people were brutally murdered in a shopping mall in Kenya. A Norwegian citizen is believed to have been among the al-Shabaab terrorists, also a group connected to al-Qaeda. Norwegian media writes about this for a couple of weeks, then it gets silent, hardly a word since then. I know this suspect is probably dead and can’t defend himself, but I still find it strange. This terrible incident have so many similarities with the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who less than three years ago killed 77 innocent people in Norway, also because of a crazy political idea. I find 4.5 million hits if I google Behring Breivik, only a few if I google Nordmann + Westgate. Strange since they are both terrorists from peaceful Norway. The big diference must be the etnicity. Or the religion they used as alibi for atrocity.

So why mention all this after a stroll in Oslo? Because I think this country is changing too fast, and because we have failed in integration. Not only failed of course. There are immigrants who do perfectly well,  as scientists, many journalists in major newsrooms, and we had a Muslim in our last government. But we also have a lot of immigrants who don’t talk Norwegian (among them 14.000 schoolchildren only in Oslo), more than 5000 asylum seekers who the local communities refuse to settle, schools with hardly any Norwegian pupils, thousands of illiterates who will maybe never get an education or a job, an increasing number of poor families, and a new working class. Many immigrants have problems getting a job, and if they do it will often be a low paid one.

The largest groups of immigrants in Norway is people from Sweden and Poland, who come here to work. But we are also among the countries that grants most asylum applications, 46 percent got a “yes” in 2013. The European Union  granted refugee status to 15 percent of the asylum seekers last year.

Somalis are now the largest group of immigrants from non-western countries in Norway. Last month it was revealed that hundreds of Somali children have been sent abroad alone, many because they don’t want their children to be too “Norwegian”.  They come as refugees, but do they really need protection if they send their children back to that same country? And why are so many immigrants (not all by all means) against the values and human rights in their new country if persecution made them flee ? And why threats or attacks on people of their own community who don’t behave in “the old way”. The lesbian writer Amal Aden is one example, or the musician and director Deeyah, of Pakistani origin, who had to flee Norways because of threats from her own community. Last year she won an Emmy Award for her film Banaz A Love Story, about honour killing. Deeyah has not moved back to Norway were she was born, and I wonder if eyes are still closed.

There are 14.800 people in Norway now waiting for asylum, or to be sent back. Sweden receives even more refugees. Nine out of ten asylum seekers have no paperwork on who they are. Sweden gives them permit to stay in a far greater extent than other Nordic countries. In Sweden there is even less discussions on this topic than in Norway. And you can loose your job if you do, claims the former journalist Gunnar Sandelin. He has written a book together with Karl-Olov Arnstberg that is bestselling even if it is said to have got only one devastating review in Sweden (“Same old rascism in a new wrapping”). I agree with a Norwegian editor that comment on the lack of debate “If one does not discuss the numbers and also the resources people come with, how can one then discuss what is needed for creating sustainable society? And if you do not discuss numbers, how do you then have an overall plan for the reception?” But it is a difficult topic to write about, the possibility of being misunderstood is imminent.

Tony Blair are among the spokesmen that have warned about radical Islam lately. Researchers in UK have recently revealed that radical Muslim clerics based also in countries like USA and Australia are using social media to incite westerners waging jihad in Syria.  In Nigeria the Nobel Prize Winner Professor Wole Soyinka in the same way now warns against Boko Haram threatening humanity, after the abduction of more than 200 school girls by the islamist group. This week the leader of the group sent out a video with a horrifying message. I think it is time to fight such groups and such destructive ideologies even if they live amongst us, not the least if they live amongst us. And to support the moderate and secular, like Ahmed Akkari, a Danish imam who started a fire by damning Muhammad cartoons some years ago, now a former islamist.

Some pages I recommend: Mona Eltahawy, The Islamic Far Right of Britain, Hate Speech International, Qui Sont les Freres Musulmans/Hva er det muslimske brorskapet, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Free Arabs, Opplyste muslimer,

No person in these pictures are in any way involved in any of the stories mentioned.

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104 thoughts on “Changes

    1. I know, Japan do it their own way. If you take the refugee population in different countries (2012), Japan has 2.581, Spain 4.510, Portugal 483, Sweden 92.872 and Norway 43.822. Our government say our numbers are according to international agreements, but why then so different in different countries? Some say it is because we have oil, but Brunei have 0 refugees. It is neccessary to give asylum to persecuted people, otherwise we should help countries to develop and get peace. Thanks, Cocomino.

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  1. The problem is more apparent in England (naturally) often city by city, area to area it was inhabited by the particular group and often it creates
    no-go-area to the outsider. In order to assert their own identity and “supremacy” they goes to extreme. (—– though, this issue need to have
    10 of the pages to just describe the situation.)

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    1. Naturally there are more migrants to UK, because of colonies and the commonwealth. That I find obvious. But as it seems UK also got so many problems of this kind, and are not dealing with them, or find it too difficult. No-go-areas shouldn’t happen, it is horrible, whatever the reason. I just felt the lack of 10 pages…. Thanks for your comment, Yoshizen.

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  2. I understand you perfectly, it is not a religious problem at all. Everyone is entitled to believe what he/she wants as long as it does not endanger others. But the culture brought by many such immigrants means to me, as a woman, a step back in our “own” European culture. Several cities here in Germany are known to have more foreign inhabitants than aborigines and I must say I do not feel safe at all, certainly not, again, as a woman. This is a pity in my eyes.

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    1. I so much agree in everyones right to believe what they want, and also that this is not a religious problem. But it is a problem based on some groups abuse of religion, which we have seen at all times, in different religions. I think the hate and cruelty by some of these political-religious groups now are more dangerous than anything before. But that goes for the extremists. In addition you have cultural traditions that gives setbacks like you describe. It can’t be accepted, it has to be dealt with. Thanks, Labelle.

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  3. Det er en kedelig udvikling, der er i gang!
    Det værste er manglende viden, det gør mennesker til lette ofre for manipulation.
    Mange hilsner,
    Hanna

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    1. Jeg tror det er mye manglende viten, enten det gjør at mange dømmer på feil grunnlag, eller er likegyldige. Men dere i Danmark har i hvertfall en ganske åpen debatt som jeg forstår? Og det er bra. Hvis det er en kjedelig utvikling, så får vi gjøre noe med det, etter beste evne. Tusen takk, Hanna.

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  4. I can almost understand dear Bente. I lived a little shock when I visited a few years ago UK, In Bournemouth, the view changed. It wasn’t like as in my memories many years ago… People at the beach were all Muslim and in dress… and people on the streets were talking a different languages and also not as like a native one… Actually, this is problem. I do respect people’s life, beliefs, etc. but when they want to live in another country especially in different culture, religion, they also bring their culture and life and belief too… I know this is human right, all right, but if my country changes with them… and yes, changes too… There is wrong in this matter for me… And makes me worry about future and also in my country so many things make me worry too… This is one of difficult matter. Thanks and Love, nia

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    1. I guess Istanbul can seem more modern these days than some of the cities in Western Europe, at least than some parts of these cities. And that is one of the things I find strange, people who are supposed to have fled from autocrat regimes with no freedom even gets less democracy-minded when they come to Europe, not embracing equal rights but the opposite, and they even succeed in transforming many natives into their fundamentalistic way of life and thinking. It certainly is difficalt matter, make me worry sometimes, for my country and yours too. Maybe we shouldn’t worry too much, but still not accept what is backward development. Have a lovely day dear Nia.

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      1. Dear Bente, yesterday we were at the airport because my son was going to fly to Baku again. (He came just for one day🙂 for me!) anyway, he was in the long clue for the passport check and we were watching far from the check point. There was an old man with his women ( I can’t say who was they) they were all wearing chador and only you can see their eyes. When it was their time for the passport check by the policeman, the man asked her to open her face and to look at the camera. She refused normally and the old man too. But when the policeman told them they had to go to other passport check poing especially for this kind of problems. We expected that they would have gone to there but they didn’t want to lose time and the women opened their face to the policeman and to the camera. It was strange… I really don’t understand this. Yes, you can wear whatever you wish but in this modern world, why only eyes… Anyway, Thank you dear Bente, have a nice new week, love, nia

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      2. We can wear whatever we wish, but some can’t. I find the chador etc. as part of a very oppressive system, especially for women. But the Norwegian converts are made to believe that it is obligatory (which it is not), that it makes them clean compared with others, end even that it is “liberating”,. and they obey. So yes, what a strange world.Thanks for telling about this interesting but sad episode, dear Nia. I hope your son will be back again soon.

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  5. This is a very brave post, Bente. Well done on holding your ground and refusing to keep silent about a very important topic. We need to talk to each other and with each other about all these issues regularly – if we are really interested in finding a way forward.

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    1. Yes, talk together and share experiences, both the bright side and the opposite. There are also other issues around, and they can look different in other parts of the world. Forward we want, not backwards. Thanks a lot for your comment,

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  6. Difficult time, Benji. In the US, it is white males born and raised here who are the biggest problem to me, though. One recently was even talking about why women don’t need the right to vote!
    I, too, have been a defender of human rights and especially women’s rights for many years. I surely do not understand being willing to be covered head to toe as many Muslim women are. I have a friend in Mexico, in a small town of about 7,000, who chose to become Muslim about eight years ago, and she chose to cover herself.She is not quite as strict, only covering her head in a scarf. I do not understand, and I do not really agree, but I do respect her choice. It is a difficult balance between my wanting equality for her and my loving her and respecting her choice. (By the way, until a few years ago she was the only Muslim in the town. She is now married to a man she met while visiting California USA and he lives there, too. They travel 60 miles y bus to attend the closest mosque.)
    I have such mixed feelings – respect mixed with concern. Tolerance mixed with questions. Support mixed with outrage. It is hard to know what to feel!

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    1. We have to respect peoples choices (unless it is to destroy the world or criminality), but we don’t have to agree of course. Even friends can disagree in all kinds of matters. I can see you have mixed feelings, thanks for sharing. By the way, I have no problems with what religion people believe in or not, but i have a problem when it gets fundamentalistic or otherwise political.

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  7. Am I the only one who has spotted that the lady in the first picture is trying to hide a portable television set under her outfit? At least you can tell there’s some sort of box hidden there…could it be Pandora’s box, for that’s how all religion strikes me? It sounds nice and peaceful on paper but the moment men are allowed anywhere near it, religion is turned into something political that invariably enslaves women and children. Religion = facism in my eyes, always has done, always will.

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    1. It must be Pandoras box, and we don’t know what is inside. I don’t agree that religion is fascism, but we see fascism with some groups now, and there have been very bad use of religions during the centuries. It is a problem that religion is not only for peoples hearts, but interpreted and used by people in power, or who wants power. And as you say, enslaved too many women and children. Myself I like the love and peace part of religion, when it can be found. Thanks for your comment, Maria.

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  8. Kudos for tackling the subject and I do understand. I’d add though, that the worst jihadist are not doing anything more than the worst Christians of the crusades. The invasion is no more than the colonists of America and Australia displacing the indigenous people.. The world rolls on and gradualy, too slowly, matures. Even more slowly in the war torn and persecuted areas of the world. The best thing we can do is support and maintain our own cultures as part of the mix. Not integration so much as harmony.

    I live inthe East End of London. I would rather have the well behaved of any culture than the poorly behaved of my own. But don’t get me wrong, I do undestand how disconcering it can be. The adaptation can be very hard. Best of Luck🙂

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    1. You are probably right about the comparison with the crusades, but that was in the Middle Ages, and I espect the world to have progressed since then. And we can’t correct colonialism or displacing of indigenous people some centuries ago, by allowing something “similar” now. But I agree about harmony, nothing is better, and I am not against anybodys culture or religion. There is just something about the scope and the speed of things happening. It seems many (politicians, the elite, ordinary people) don’t really know what is happening, or the implications. It could be parallell worlds more than harmony.Thanks for your comment, Graham.

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  9. This is an excellent post Bente. I admire you for writing it. I live in Canada and yes we too have a very diverse population but for the most part people respect each others customs, beliefs and religion. Oh don’t get me wrong there are incidents of course as there are everywhere else. I love Europe and I love travelling and visiting different countries but I must tell you that as a Jewish woman the “hate” demonstrations that I see coming out of Paris and Brussels, among other countries, sends a chill down my spine.

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    1. I might have explained myself badly, for the majority respect each other. But it seems also to be a growing barrier and a development of two worlds, or more. And some really bad extremists too seem to have the perfect soil to grow in. I think if these things can’t be discussed, the situation could be worse. Hate is always terrible, and hate against Jews reminds too much of the Nazi era. We have some of this too, alas, an islamist in Norway was just sentenced for hate speech against Jews and threats against journalists: http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/1.11555989

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  10. I used to live and work in both Grønland and Gamlebyen, so I’ve experienced the problems. It’s shameful what’s happened to Norway: the political correctness and the cowardly nature of Norwegians is killing our country.

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    1. BTW: as soon as we had a kid, we did like most other Norwegians do and moved away from those areas. You can’t raise your child in an environment where many of the other kids can’t even speak proper Norwegian. Some of them can’t speak any Norwegian at all when they start school at an age of 6.

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      1. It must be a problem if your kid don’t have classmates that speaks Norwegian, and that is of course also a problem for immigrant children, with parents who don’t know the language. I read today that 40 percent of all the schoolchildren in Oslo have another first language than Norwegian! How to cope with that? Thanks for your comment Guzman.

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  11. I’m very open and broadminded, but I too worry about the ‘hate’ demonstrations which Edith Levy mentioned. Why can’t people live in peace? It’s so easy to do and yet so many make life difficult (and violent).

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      1. We have very strict migrant and/or refugee guidelines, Bente. Our biggest ‘problem’ (if you could call it that) is the boat refugees coming to the northern side of Australia. The flimsy boats charge the refugees a fortune and are grossly overcrowded making food and the risk of sinking in the heavy seas a real issue.

        Our new Govt policy is to send or escort them back to the country of departure, for the most.

        Our whole western culture and infrastructure was built by emigrants in Australia in the early 1800s. We are an open multi-cultural society, but it seems the Govt can’t handle the processing of multiple waves of ‘boat people’. These people need a reasonable amount of English and some way to work to support themselves and that is very difficult for many. Some of the ‘boat people’ are genuine refugees and fear for their lives back in their home country, but others are not. I guess it’s sorting the genuinely needy people from the others that is the hard part.

        Our population are living much longer and despite our Superannuation (or retirement) system, this is now inadequate for the ageing population. The Govt are bringing in a new retirement age of 70 (instead of 65). The Govt say they can’t afford to pay the old age pension to so many and need more young taxpaying people to support the infrastructure and resources for the elderly and chronically ill. While we live in a relatively prosperous western country, more and more of the larger manufacturers (e.g. car manufacturers in particular) are closing down and moving their factories to China and other Asian countries where the wages are far less. We have whole towns based around the car industry and associated car ‘parts’ industries. These towns have no other industries and there are thousands who have worked their whole lives in this industry and don’t have any other skills. Besides, it’s extremely hard for middle-aged unskilled workers to get jobs……any jobs.

        It’s a vicious circle in that we have room and countryside for more people, but not the towns and infrastructure to support new cities. Even the change in weather is forcing many of our farmers off the land and we’re having to buy more and more food from other countries.

        We should be supporting our own farmers. My Mother’s family were all farmers and they all eventually found it was costing more to produce the crops and milk (dairy herds) than the price the big supermarkets were willing to pay for the raw product. I try to support local farmer’s markets if I can and try to buy locally produced food.

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      2. You are describing problems that are similar in so many countries, Vicki. We obviously don’t have any boat people, since we are far away from the countries so many people are leaving, but they come here anyway. Our 5 very small Nordic countries almost by the North Pole received 76,400 asylum seekers in 2013, the European Union registered 398,200 together for the 28 EU countries, USA 88,400 and Australia 24,300, and Japanb only 3,300 claims. Our 5 Nordic countries have 25 million inhabitants, Japan has 127 million. So you can see this situation have different effect in different parts of the world, and this is only one side of this issue. I don’t mind taking in people who is really persecuted, on the opposite, and I understand it is hard to be sure about who really are. I think the world together have to make better efforts to improve the situation in the regions that have the biggest problems with oppression, war, poverty and growth of population. That is the solution, but so hard to realize. And to take care of every farmer in every country.

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  12. Very brave post, Bente, and deeply felt. I think you stated the problem and observations with a delicate hand. Yes, the times they are a’ changing, as Bob Dylan wrote over 40 years ago, and most of us respect/admire other cultures. But it is difficult when groups insist on bringing their own culture in to the point of “taking over.” I live in Italy, and as an American, I’m very very careful about not imposing my beliefs on the locals here. As it turns out, I prefer most things Italian to American anyway, but that’s not the point…even if I didn’t, I would not insist on trying to change people here to my ways. I’ve moved here to their land, and I’ve adapted with great pleasure. I agree with grahamatlinc above, harmony is the best thing to strive for…but it’s not always easy with SUCH a clash of cultures.

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    1. Me too I prefer the Italian when in Italy, as I prefer the Egyptian when in Egypt, just to give examples. Thanks for an interesting comment, and have a lovely time in Umbria.

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  13. Stunning photos Bente and a interesting blog, all over the world it is the same. we have to live with it and that’s not a big problem but I don’t like women en children in niqabs, it is not a free choiche for them. Religion is from the beginning the root of all evil!

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    1. I think every religion can be the root to both good and evil, depending on how it is used or misused. Myself I prefer the peace and love parts of religions. Thanks for your comment, Ann.

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      1. I prefer the peace and love parts also Bente and I’m verry sorry for all what’s wrong in the religions when de people are extreem.

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      2. Peace and love is what we need, more than ever if we look around. Unfortunately the extremists are growing in numbers in so many parts of the world. It is sad, and dangerous.

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  14. Good for you, Bente, for speaking out and saying what is on the minds of many non-Muslim people of the world. It is a problem that is creeping up on us and will not end well. I clicked on the “horrifying message” in your post. It is shocking!! But it’s not the first time I’ve heard this attitude from Muslim extremists. Their ultimate goal is to kill all Christians. Why are we helping them overpower us? Look at how they behave. Killing and torturing innocent people, especially women. And we have been taught not to speak out because we might be considered racist or prejudiced. They use this to their advantage too.

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  15. I agree with a previous comment that it’s not just a Muslim problem. The US is having much the same sort of thing happening with our homegrown religious fundamentalists. There seems to be a concerted effort to wipe out tolerance. What a very strange world we live in.

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    1. Yes, it still seems to be some Christian fundamentalists “over there”, we got rid of ours some decades ago, at least they are not to be seen. Instead we got some new ones, and nobody seems to care. Thanks, Gunta.

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  16. Interesting . . . expressing the same concerns here (U. S.) will get you labeled a racist, intolerant, etc. etc.

    I am an immigrant (came to the US when I was 13), and the last thing I wanted to do was bring a piece of Italy with me. I am fully supportive of diversity and the integration of different cultures, but that’s not what’s happening here (or around the world). It seems many people don’t want so much to integrate, as to make things the way they like it.

    I dislike seeing things like “Little Italy” or ‘Chinatown”, etc. . . as to me that’s not integrating, but hiding, and wanting to remain separate.

    As an immigrant, I don’t understand the desire to change the place you went to, wanting to make it like the place you left. And I understand even less not wanting to discuss real problems when cultures clash.

    Hope you don’t get too much grief because of this piece.

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    1. I had to think about your comments regarding Little Italy, Chinatown and the like. I think, based on what I know of US history (I am from the US) that immigrants in the 1800s pretty much were not allowed to mix and thus formed their own communities. I know in the town I live in, Chinese were allowed – and welcomed – to open and run the laundries, but they were not allowed to live in town and had to be physically out of town by sundown or risk violence or arrest. This was true in some parts of cities like Chicago, where I’m originally from, and New York. So my guess is, that is why the separation began and why it continues today.

      I think, too, moving into a “Little Italy” is a way to feel comfortable in a new land.

      I remember as a child loving to go to these “other” places. The markets were different, the smells coming from restaurants was delicious (and I tried as many as I could afford), and I was exposed to new languages. It broadened my world.

      Today, because of racism that still exists, I think, too, that some people find it more comfortable to stay among the culture they are most familiar with.

      The US has changed so much from the 50s and 60s when I watched the struggle of the Blacks in the South. But racism is not gone. My boyfriend (a term I find laughable at my age) is of another race. We have talked about some of his experiences, and I have witnessed the callousness with which others have treated him. We have discussed the problems of us being together when we are of different cultures, different races, and with different languages, though he is also fluent in English. His first language is, many times, the one he is still most comfortable with.

      Thank you for your comments – you, like everyone else who has responded, have given me much to think about.

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      1. Very interesting to read your comments, Emilio and Emilie, and thanks for taking your time. Chinatowns, Little Italy, and even Little Norway (extinct now I believe, but yes, we did immigrate too 100-200 years ago) is part of history. That doesn’t mean it has to be the same way now. Especially if some who have fled a country wants to establish an even more fundamentalistic society in their new country than the old they left.

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      2. Intolerance. Fundamentalism. Both, I believe, can lead to fanaticism. There is much to be concerned about in today’s world. Ah! What a wonderful dialogue this has begun!

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      3. I agree, Emilie, it is not what religion that is the problem, but if there is intolerance, fundamentalism and fanaticism expressed based on religion. Any religion, and even atheism. I think many are afraid of these topics because they fear misunderstanding, or that the discussion gets a bad direction. I am glad this seems to end as dialogue, and thanks for participating.

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      4. There is no question segregation, prejudice, and outright animosity contributed to the initial segregation . . . but it continued (and continues) after that was no longer the case.

        Understand, I am referring to ethnicity, not race or religion, although often the three are closely correlated. The point I’m making is that while some of that can be attributed to wanting (for instance) access to particular food, or to keep up with the language, etc. there is also more than its share of people wanting to recreate what they left behind.

        And I’m not saying that is a bad thing; it’s just that it came become an island onto itself where one can live without ever making the effort of integrating, and in fact leads people to demand pseudo-independence from the rest of societal norms and laws while still wanting the rights and privileges associated with living in the host country.

        You mention race and racism . . . I’ll say something that is probably not PC . . . I’m tired of having the media, some prominent and bombastic self-declared representative of this or that race, entertainers, and pundits, assume that if you are a white middle aged male, you are automatically a bigot, racist, entitled, intolerant, etc.

        Yes, there is a race problem, but in my opinion the current approach of “forcing” a solution through ramming it down people’s throats that whether they realize it or not, they are racist, has made and will continue to make things worse. Starting with the assumption I’m racist is not going to endear anyone to me. Beside, how does one defend themselves against that? Saying “I’m not racist” these days is often interpreted as the very admission of racism.

        That accusatory approach is creating a divide that will become harder and harder to bridge, especially since the conversation is then framed based on accusations rather than on reaching a common ground. Worse yet, you can see such accusations being unscrupulously used to wrestle unwarranted concessions and compensation from people and corporations.

        Lest I go down that road too far, let me add those tactics appear to be more at the national level than in actual interpersonal relationships, but that constant barrage from loud and insistent sources who basically preach hate does eventually seep down to the individuals, and it is not conducive to a healthy debate.

        As a side note, I am reminded of 1971, when i graduated from a high school that was racially integrated (roughly half and half). I had black friends that went on to the same University I went to, but within a year they would not even acknowledge me when they were with their black friends. It was not “cool” in their groups to have white friends. By the second year, our one-on-one relationships had also ceased. These were individuals I had fairly close relationships through the four years of high school. In the nearly 40 years since, I’ve seen the same thing repeated with ethnicity, religion, race, and pretty much every group I can think of.

        In our desire to “belong”, we gave up belonging to the population at large, and that is what I see as keeping us from going forward. Everyone is in a ‘special interest’ group, fighting to get the upper hand (not just equality, no matter the rhetoric) over other special interest groups.

        Full disclosure . . . I don’t belong to any group, political, social, religious, or ethnic . . . although that does not keep others from assuming I do.

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    2. Thanks for another interesting, and long, comment, Emilio. I have seen from the news that you have some racism issues over there. Old ghosts reappears? Especially within sports. I don’t know if it is of any comfort, but even Michael Jordan says he has been one… How come I am not so surprised about your disclosures??

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  17. That’s an extremely well written perspective Bente – and very interesting given the world rankings of Norway as highly successful when in comes to education, standard of living, and healthcare. Immigrants should be welcome in any country, but they need to leave their religions in their own homes and minds. It absolutely needs to be left out of politics. Silence is compliance – and just because speaking out is deemed politically incorrect, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Canada has a lot of immigrants – many of them my closest friends, but I still see the attempts by some to bring their religion into every aspect of everyone’s lives (and not just the immigrants). It’s time to put a stop to that.

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    1. To leave the religions in peoples homes and minds, that is a good advice! I think our “high rankings” is one of the reasons so many in Scandinavia think the door must be wide open for everybody to come in. All the 1 billion poor, all the refugees from all wars etc, because we want to be the kindest on earth. Something like that. I don’t believe we can help all the world in that way, in most cases it has to be by other means. Thanks, Finesse for an interesting comment.

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  18. Really good article and interesting informations. E.g., I didn’t knew that Sweden gives asylum to people withouth any paperwork about who they are. Communication could be the key, yes. But as you mentioned it the discussion often ends or don’t even start because of the fear of being called a racist.

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    1. Not only Sweden gives asylum to people without any paperwork, they just have bigger numbers totally. The last four years Norway received 40.000 asylum seekers without papers. Many of them will stay. Thanks, Allestisgut.

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  19. Norway and the Scandinavian countries are known for their toleration of human rights. The problem is when intolerant ideas are hidden in dubious religious beliefs and fanaticism. Suppression of peoples human rights is still suppression whether it is cloaked in religious ideology or not. When little girls are covered and told they don’t need education this will affect the little boys as well. In France there is a separation between State and religion. Amelia

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    1. I am afraid tolerance also make us tolerate some ideas and practices that would otherwise would not be tolerated, only because they go under the guise of being religious. We have to be tolerant of course, but not if it violates the Human rights, and not if it ignites hate. Every state should be secular. We got a separation between state and the protestant religion last year. Actually this is not only positive, since it is our politicians who have pushed on reforms of our church. Without this connection it probably could have taken longer time to get female priests and bishops. Our constitution is also changed to be multicultural. Thanks for your comment, Amelia.

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    1. I was trying to find the book so that I could quote it, but I remember studies showing that women under harsh religious doctrines dole out harsher punishments and are less compassionate than their male counterparts.

      If I remember correctly, this was thought to be the case of the oppressed taking on the mantle of the oppressors as a way to gain some power in a situation in which they are otherwise powerless.

      Not sure if I’m explaining it well, but the assumption was that by embracing the oppressive doctrines, and by adhering to them to the letter, the women would thus gain a measure of power they could wield over others.

      But yes . . . religion, as Hitchens often said, poisons everything.

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      1. Then it seems you agree with Patti, Emilio. Sort of. I am not surprised if women under harsh religious conditions take on the mantle of the oppressors to gain some power, since they are otherwise powerless. But the result of every harsh religious doctrines, is women kept in place, if women participate in it or not. (The common man has probably not much to say either.) Like in countries with Female genital mutilation: It is the women who not only performs, but also defends this horrific practice…

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      2. I wrote before about my surprise at the number of converts to Islam.It is said women outnumber men in conversions, and for the life of me I don’t understand why a woman would choose a religion where, per doctrine, they have few rights in either this life or the next.

        I’ve stopped trying to understand humans, but that was a head scratcher for me.

        By the way, just in case, here’s stuff I think (and sometimes write) about:
        http://disperser.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/choosing-a-religion/

        If you rather not muddy the discussion waters, just remove the second half of this post.

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      3. Just read you summary of this worlds (not the other) religions, very good Emilio. About converts: The good old missionary (good & bad ones) are nothing compared with the missions going on now. Chech CAIR in US, just read about them, and there are 10 Norwegian converts now fighting in Syria, for jihad, TEN! That is not totaly strange either because converts know nothing about their new religion and are easily manipulated. Holy war is maybe even more exciting than video games and a dull life. Want to read some expert views on these topics? Here they are: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/lifting-the-veil-of-islamophobia#sthash.lKIj00xo.dpuf%E2%80%9CIslamophobia%E2%80%9D%E2%80%94which

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      4. Yeah, got his article on my inbox earlier.

        If history were a teacher, humanity would realize religious wars are not now, nor ever were, unique to their time. The world is not going to get less bloody anytime soon. I fully expect escalation of hostilities based not only on competition for diminishing resources, but of competing ideologies. I’m hoping I’m long gone before it gets intolerable.

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  20. A very well written and a brave article Bente although of course, to discuss this oh so important issues should not be considered so. Political correctness is what is allowing Isamic fundamentalism in through the back door and it isn’t good enough. Under Tony Blair, immigration mushroomed, it was a deliberate policy of the government. No one really knows why although many speculate that socialism was the natural choice of the immigrant and the labour party that desperate to hang on to votes, were importing them. It is interesting that it is now, having left government and enjoying his millions made out of doing a job that was supposed to be one of service, that he warns of a problem. The labour party now agree they go it wrong but as one commentator said, when the tsunami strikes the damage is already done. I fear for the future.
    Thank you once again Bente for writing this article. It deserves to be freshly pressed but I imagine the happiness engineers are all far too politically correct for that to happen. I wanted to tackle grahamatlinc’s rather banal comment but you did it beautifully Bente.

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    1. Freshly pressed, hahaha, Adrian, you are really joking. If that was a goal I would certainly have to change the subject. But more seriously; thanks a lot for your interesting comment. I don’t know if Blair in his time wanted more voters, maybe he only wanted a pat on the shoulder, behaving as the “good guy”, doing what is expected everywere now?

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  21. A great article; one which I can relate to here in Toronto. You’ve hit the nail directly on its head: The problem, or, if one prefers, the issue at hand, is that the majority of immigrants, especially muslim, seem happy to not want to integrate into the new Western culture they have chosen to live in. I don’t think it’s fair or right that people of any group should be permitted to enter a new country/culture and not integrate, at all. Why come to the new country?
    I wholeheartedly agree with Disperser, re: why would women want to become Muslim. I’ve read the Koran, especially the chapter on women, it’s brutal, and barbaric the punishments that are allowed to be meted out to women.
    Integration and assimiliation should be mandatory for all new immigrants, or asylum seekers.

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  22. Bente, this is very brave, well done I have been living outside Norway for more than 30 years and the changes taking place, especially in Oslo, never stop to amaze me. You have got a fine discussion started here, with lots of good commentary.
    Ha en fin helg!
    Dina

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    1. Yes, I am amazed at the discussion, so many interesting comments from different parts of the world. Maybe you should write a book about this topic from your perspective? Thanks, Dina, for participating. Ha en fin helg du og dere også!

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      1. You know what, this discussion and the way it takes off, leave me speechless.
        Last summer I took to the train into Oslo from Fredrikstad.
        Do you know what greets you when you get off the train? I was appalled. On my way to the opera, I thought I had left the country, wading through very aggressive, foreign beggars. But I’m speechless, so I’ll say no more.🙂
        I’ll think about your suggestion!
        Ha det bra, Bente!

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    1. Thanks Guzman for this link. The documentary is very moving, as it always is when children have problems. If somebody tells a child that he is going to Hell because of his food traditions, like pig meat, that is bullying, and bullying is normally handled very seriously in Norway. But not here, since the boy have to leave the school with 97 percent foreign language pupils. I think the mother express these kind of problems in one sentence: ” All my knowledge about multiculturalism is academic, even if I live right in the middle of it.” Imagine all the politicians and academics who really just have an academic knowledge of the situation.

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  23. You raise some very interesting points here, Bente. In my country, UK, we have quite a few immigration issues and, no doubt, some Islamic extremists. The trouble is there is always an element of the ‘native’ white population who like to oversimplify things and provide a scapegoat for economic or societal woes (look at Germany in the 1930s). Sure there are a number of religious extremists with a single agenda, but the vast majority just want to get on with their lives and their neighbours.
    In these postmodern times I think we must all be capable of having multiple identities – British/Asian, British/English, Norwegian/Somali etc. Let’s not forget too that the USA, especially the south and midwest, has vast number of religious extremists (Christian), flat-earthers and climate change deniers. The key, I think, is education and an avoidance of ghettoisation. Norway has a history of tolerance that it ought to be proud of. There again, such tolerance should not be abused either.

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    1. I agree with everything, Elveden. I am not anti-islam or anti-immigration, and I certainly don’t support any right wing extremists or Christian flat-earthers (they are extinct in Scandinavia more or less, at least I can’t see any), but I belive we are closing our eyes to many of the problems that are evolving under our noses. One of them comes from the speed of integretion. The immigration in Norway is now about the higest in the world. USA is known as the country of immigration. The only period in which the United States had higher net migration than we have today was in the 1850s. Then came the 10 immigrants annually per 1,000 inhabitants, compared with our 9.4 now. http://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/spaltister/Migrasjonens-umuligheter-7219194.html#.Ua00Bpz4ITU
      And with this speed and since there are thousands who don’t know our language, traditions, values etc., I believe we we lose the community that this society is built on. Many will be standing outside. I also believe that any topics can be discussed, contrary to many people today. Thanks a lot for your comment.

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    2. (east of elveden) While it is agreed the often the problem is not with the majority of any given population, one can also agree that said majority does not speak out to condemn the minority that are causing problems. As such they become tacit accomplices, and are, therefore, as culpable to my eyes.

      No one gets a pass on responsibility. Are there Muslims who want Islam respected as a religion of peace? Yes, but then they should be on the forefront and both verbally and actively condemn those who would make it otherwise. Are there Muslims who insist Islam is friendly to, and respects women? Yes, but then they should be on the forefront to both verbally and actively condemn those who make it otherwise. Neither is the case.

      Changes in behavior and beliefs in a given group cannot be forced upon them from the outside; the pressure must come from within.

      As for the USA mention . . . there are not a vast number of religious extremist. They are just more vocal, and as I mention, the moderates choose to remain quiet.

      Flat-earthers? Really? That is your impression of The South? As of 2012, the society had 420 members.

      Now, if you are talking about young-earthers, the numbers are much greater.

      As for climate deniers, let’s understand the basis for that. The lines get a little blurred when one talks about climate change and doing something about it.

      Count me firmly in the camp of those who look at the data and accept, and argue, for humans as contributors to climate change. It is a serious problem and the world will pay a steep price for it.

      BUT . . . also count me on the camp of not wanting the economic hardship of doing anything about it. The reasons are too many to discuss here, but that is what I mean by the lines being blurred.

      As with most issues, things are never black and white. But sometimes they do trend one way or another. Religion is one of them, and immigration is another. It is not difficult to identify and see first hand, be it here in the US or around the world, the issues that remain unresolved through lack of communication and open discourse, and this is really what this article is about.

      Humans are very good at ignoring problems until they become catastrophes, and then everyone pays the associate steep price. What iss strange is that the lesson is never learned.

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      1. I agree the majority should speak out to condemn the minority causing problems but I think it’s a stretch to say they are equally culpable. Complacent maybe, cowardly perhaps.
        I was using the term ‘flat-earther’ ironically, I am surprised there are even 420. ‘Young-earthers’ are they the people who think the fossil record is put there by the devil in order to confuse us?
        Climate chnage: If you are (also) in the camp of ‘not wanting the economic hardship of doing anything about it’ then isn’t this a bit of a contradiction to your statement: ‘Humans are very good at ignoring problems until they become catastrophes, and then everyone pays the associate steep price.’
        I am sure that I agree with you on religion in general but I do feel that in the US the blanket term ‘Muslim’ tends to be a bit more perjorative than it is in Europe. I may well be wrong but what was all the fuss about those ridiculous people trying to suggest that Obama was a Muslim? So what if he was, who cares (he clearly isn’t)?
        I would describe myself as hardline agnostic but in a lifetime of travel to over 100 countries I would say that of all the people I have met it has been ordinary Muslims who have impressed me the most with their generosity, hospitality and humanity. So it is this experience that gives me a sort of default value not the evil doings of a small minority of extremists determined to plunge us into darkness and return to Medieval values.

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      2. Not a stretch in my book to blame entire populations, and we do the same when looking at history. We judge ancient ancient populations by their ritual sacrifice, and do not break down which of them were really nice people. Islam right now is complacent (and thus complicit) in the ritual mutilation of young girls. Jews and most americans mutilate their babies.

        Americans are the only people who have used nuclear bombs during war (so far). I’m pretty sure you could have asked most Americans at the time, and they would have opted to wipe them “japs” right off the face of the earth. Singly, if they would have to make the decision, that’s another matter.

        Groups dynamics are better understood than they used to be, so I am not surprised you found individuals being very nice during your travels (the interview linked above has an interesting thing in it – we (the general we, not us) often have no problem mocking many religions, but not Islam, and the reason is simple – their religion clearly spells out what to do ins such a case. Hint: it’s not to be tolerant).

        I personally have or have had muslims, jews, many christians, mormons, hindus and other friends, and all are very nice persons. I specifically asked two Muslim friends if they would abide by the Qur’an directions regarding people who are shown the way, but will not convert (me). Their answer was that there was still time for their god to show me the path.

        By the way, I ask the same questions of christians, and they dismiss the relevant passages; as Hitchen said, neither the Bible nor Qur’an are menus one can pick and choose from. I’ll add that if one does pick and choose, I expect them to vociferously speak against what they themselves discarded from their beliefs, but they don’t. Yes, cowardly . . . and culpable.

        As for individuals being nice . . . Ted Bundy was a nice person, described as handsome and charismatic.

        The measure of a person is both what they do, and don’t do.

        I had the misfortune of being in the periphery of a couple of riots during the 70’s (one was intentional; there was a ‘peaceful’ protest, and I was curious. Everything was fine until someone near where I was picked up a trash can and threw it through a shop window – mayhem ensued, and I ran), and what I know is that groups behave very different than individuals, and that you don’t always ‘know’ the persons you think you know.

        As for my own views regarding climate change, there is no contradiction. Humans have ignored the problem, and indications are the engine of change is well on its way. All of the proposals I have heard about fail in two important areas; one, they do not address the underlying problem (humans reproducing at a rate that will outpace even the most aggressive mitigation proposals), and two, the benefits (if any) are realized in the long term (after I am dead), and hence hold no incentive for me.

        Should the world actually want to address both the climate change problem and many of its underlying causes (universally and globally), I’ll be there in spades. Meantime, sorry . . . don’t want to piss (as they say) my money away on half-ass measures that will do little beyond hurt a bunch of people (and me).

        Hardline agnostic? You should read my definition of agnostic. . . no, better not. That’s another conversation too long for this forum.

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  24. “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” That should be the rule for immigration, otherwise stay home. Very difficult to tolerate newcomers who themselves are intolerant of the culture and society of the country to which they have immigrated.

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    1. When in Rome.. is a rule that often that can be recommended. I understand that every person moving to a new country will bring some of her/his traditions, culture etc., but it will never work if 2-3 or more groups of people live in the same space, don’t know each others language and never interacts. Thanks for your comment, Elaine.

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  25. Thank you for your response, Bente. I was not in any way suggesting that you were anti anything. You are quite right that the very speed of the change is part of the problem. I remember visiting Lofoten a couple of summers ago and noticing new, very isolated Somali communities there. I wondered how they would fit it, what they would do etc. They seemed so isolated and insular. You are abslutely right – these things need to be discussed – but as I said, there is a tendency by some to oversimplify. Anyway, brave of you to bring this difficult subject up. All the best, Laurence

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    1. Somalis in Lofoten (and in other very small places in Norway) will be very far from home. I am not against refugees either. On the contrary, I believe the right to asylum is one of the most important human rights, that is dissidents and political opponents seeking shelter for personal persecution. But even people running these places for refugees in Norway complain that so many goes back on holiday as soon as they get their permit to stay. That is holiday in the country that is supposed to be too dangerous for them to live in. Thanks again, for your comment, Laurence, and you are quite right; this issues are so complex so it is difficult to no oversimplified, or misunderstood. And by the way, I am very much against all fundamentalism in religion, and these days islamists seems to be the most dark and dangerous around, and they are not few.

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  26. You are very brave to open this can of worms, Bente, but it is an issue the world needs to deal with because it is only becoming a larger problem every day and, I believe, could eventually lead us down the path to World War III. I am one who believes religion has become a much larger threat to world peace than any other cultural aspect found in our differences with the singular exception of language, of course, and learning the adopted country’s language should be absolutely required of every immigrant within a fixed period of time and as a prerequisite to citizenship or even an extended visa beyond a certain length of time. Here in the United States there are entire sections of cities and towns where all language, including signage, is in a foreign language, which isolates immigrants and serves only to create resentment on the part of their native neighbors. As for religion, we need look no further than the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Ottoman Empire, or al Qaeda and 9/11.
    I would like to think this is a problem the United Nations should deal with, but even that bastion of world peace will remain paralyzed because it is little more than an instrument of power in the controlling hands of but five of the worlds nations. To begin with, if the U.S., the U.K., and France truly believed in democracy, why have they not called for a democratic United Nations? Of course, I don’t believe that would solve the world’s problems because religion, power and greed loom head and shoulders over our ideological differences.
    I’m confident that this issue is fast becoming one of the most critical issues of our time.

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    1. This is a very interesting discussion, so thanks for participating Jerry. And bringing new experiences. I believe the UN is doing some good in this world, and it also brings contact between nations, but democratic is probably not the word. Especially the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), were Saudi Arabia, Cuba, China and Russia, all regimes that violate the human rights of their own populations, shall among the “experts”. Of the UN’s 193 member states, 140 supported Saudi Arabia’s candidacy. http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/03/06/irwin-cotler-the-tragic-farce-of-the-un-human-rights-council/

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  27. Interesting post. As you probably know, there are nearly 5 million people of Norwegian ancestry living in the U.S. As a percentage of its population, Ireland is the only country that contributed more immigrants to the U.S. than Norway. 1/3 of Norway’s population immigrated to North American in the late 19th Century. No doubt few of those Norwegians spoke English when they arrived, or had much if any appreciation for American culture and traditions. During that period of time there was much resistance to the immigration and much fear that immigrants were going to destroy and overwhelm America. A nativist political party called the Know-Nothings gained much popularity and power, mainly out of fear that Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Germany (principally) were bringing in a strange new religion that threatened traditional American society. Over time all the turmoil died down and the immigrants assimilated into American culture, which benefited from their presence.

    I hope that over time Norway and the rest of Europe that is undergoing change due to immigration will eventually experience a similar peaceful and harmonious resolution of the tensions that come with times of change.

    Here in the U.S. we are experiencing similar anxiety due to large scale immigration from Mexico. Even though immigration of this type is part of our history and culture, it does unfortunately create conflict.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

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    1. Yes, I know about the Norwegian emigration history, and USA is an all-immigrant society. Or was. American land belonged to the native peoples who were decimated in horrific ways. But that is history. One of the differences between US immigration and the one in Scandinavia now is that we are very small countries. There are no “empty” plains to be farmed and populated. We are a mountain country who can feed only 40 % of the present population, almost 60 % of the food is imported. This is never a topic. As a “rich” country we can buy food, as long as there is food to buy. But that is just one limit to growth. I think some immigration and exchange of culture is good, but not the speed of what is happening now. Thanks for an interesting comment, Bill.

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  28. I wasn’t sure I had anything to contibute, until I read the previous comment.

    Living in a state that borders Mexico, I don’t see the problems that others seem to have with (primarily Mexican) immigration. Surely, there are some, but most want to better themselves and provide for their families. Our only legitimate problems seem to be due to our governmental policies and pace of granting or denying legal status. Of course, we have politicians that try to win elections based on this one issue.

    Your immigration problems are on a much different level, to my way of thinking. That seems to be true throughout the EU, no matter what country. How the EU arrived at this state of affairs, this consensus about immigration, is beyond my understanding. An excellent article, Bente.

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  29. And we are not even a member of EU, unlike Sweden, Denmark and all the rest. We make our own decisions, but of course in cooperation with the global world, EU, and a lot of international agreements. But still we have the same development and situation as so many western countries. Thanks for you comment, Robert, most of what I know about Mexico is the lovely food, the great art of Frida Kahlo and the drug gangsters, and the poverty that makes people emmigrate, legal and illegal. By the way, we have a long history of taking in refugges, but not in a scope like now. Refugees from Hungary in the 1950’s, from Vietnam, from Bosnia and Kosovo, and 8000 Chileans came to Norway in the years following the coup in Chile in 1974. And 50.000 Norwegians fled to Sweden during WWII, when we were occupied by the Nazi. Now is different.

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  30. It’s happening in the UK. However, I think if you want to live in another country you have to embrace some of the cultures and fit in. By that I mean learning the language, eating the local food and socialising with people. In the UK many Muslims have never bothered to learn the language which is so disrespectful.

    I read a very sad story a few years ago of a Chinese woman in London who was feeding her young daughter a piece of apple when the child choked. The woman went running into the street and many people came to help but did not know what the woman was trying to say as she could not speak English and the child died. This story upset me so much.

    I’m Scottish, but if I lived in Norway i would not go about dressed in tartan and demand haggis to eat. I might wear a tartan scarf but that’s all.

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      1. Thanks for your comment, Jane. Otherwise I just have to agree with Disperser. None could have said it better than him:. No haggis, the tartan thing ok.😉

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  31. The second photograph from top, the window of a shop that sells head and neck covers for little girls in Norway of all places, made me sick. What were the Norwegian people thinking when they allowed this? This will not end up well.

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  32. Very well written and thought provoking post.
    Unfortunately, like George Orwell predicted so accurately, the noble liberal ideas are always taken to the extreme, and the result is chaos and the exploitation of the liberal values by those who are anything but liberals.
    The problem is that tolerance has become a one-sided way, where an open and liberal society is tolerant to those who are far from tolerant themselves.
    Covering women is and act of control, with zero tolerance to women – and yet no one dares to condemn it, for fear they will be considered racists. And the worse is that feminists are the most vocal ones with claiming it’s the women’s choice to cover herself completely.
    It is a total absurd not to demand from Immigrants to assimilate into the inviting country’s culture and it’s democratic values.

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  33. Well, that generated quite some discussion! I wish I got so many comments on my blog😉

    But seriously, what an excellently-written blog post. I wish more people would see the problems heading the way of non-muslim countries from many of the muslims they’ve offered shelter and refuge to! I’m like you when it comes to religion – I was brought up a Christian but I see religions as ideas and viewpoints really. Religions often offer guidance as to how to life a good life but, apart from that, I would say that’s their only use. Things seem to be going badly wrong with Islam and the koran/quran – I don’t believe the koran recommends any of the sharia nonsense being spouted nowadays but I suppose it’s a question of most religious texts being open to many interpretations. Unfortunately, many people are bending religion to their extreme views and using it to justify their atrocities and oppressions of certain members of the population.

    As a woman, it outrages me to see women being oppressed by being covered up so that men cannot lust after them. If muslim men have a problem controlling their baser instincts, they need to work on that instead of hiding their objects of lust. If they think other non-muslim men are lusting after their women, they need to uncover them and then they will see that they are mistaken in their beliefs.

    I think your post is anything but racist – it’s full of common sense and I wish more people would listen to it instead of sticking to their trendy beliefs about what is politically correct.
    Carol.

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