In Norway, Fashionable Tradition Makes Variety Pure

The World Happiness Report printed by the United Nations in March this 12 months recognized Norway because the world’s third happiest nation. The Scandinavian nation is doing remarkably nicely on the subject of key variables that affect well-being, reminiscent of earnings, freedom, belief, life expectancy, social assist and generosity.

One of many wealthiest nations on this planet, Norway provides free schooling, public pensions and common well being care to its residents and has made exemplary accomplishments in tackling inequality, unemployment and illiteracy.

Norway is seen as a mannequin within the creating world, together with in Western Europe and North America, given the exceptional strides it has made in turning into an economically affluent and socially thriving nation. About three-quarters of individuals between 15 and 64 have a job, which is increased than the OECD employment common of 68%, and 82% of adults aged 25 to 64 have accomplished secondary schooling. Their life satisfaction rating of 9.9 out of 10 — one of many highest on this planet.

Norway’s stability, security, prosperity and the welfare system make it a preferred vacation spot for migrants. On the starting of 2018, there have been 746,700 immigrants in addition to 170,000 Norwegians born to immigrant dad and mom residing in Norway. Poland, Lithuania, Somalia, Sweden and Pakistan are the highest 5 principal origin nations.

But regardless of being a contented, free and prosperous nation, Norway hasn’t been resistant to right-wing extremism that has gained traction in numerous corners of the world. Corroborated by completely different investigations and research, Islamophobia and racism are actually critical challenges for the Norwegian society. Based on the European Islamophobia Report, 14% of the nation’s Muslims skilled harassment in 2017. The identical report discovered that 34% of the inhabitants “shows marked prejudices towards Muslims.”

On this version of The Interview, Truthful Observer talks to Dr. Cora Alexa Doving, a analysis professor on the Heart for Research of Holocaust and Spiritual Minorities in Oslo, about race relations, immigration and Islamophobia in Norwegian society.

The textual content has been frivolously edited for readability.

Kourosh Ziabari: As of January 2018, immigrants accounted for simply over 14%
of Norway’s inhabitants. How does Norwegian society understand its relationship
with immigrants? Are they seen as a burden and a legal responsibility, or are they thought of
to be the drivers of the financial system?

Cora Alexa Doving: Attitudes towards immigrants are basically optimistic in Norway. Based on inhabitants surveys, a majority sees immigrants as hard-working folks making a contribution to the financial system and believes that immigration has had some optimistic impression on Norwegian tradition. However in Norway, as elsewhere, xenophobia, discrimination and racism have been the unintended effects of migration. The mixing of migrants into Norwegian society has usually been profitable, so it’s fairly stunning that 34% of the inhabitants has marked prejudices towards Muslims. The rise of anti-Muslim attitudes in Norway is intimately linked to the rise of populist right-wing formations that mobilize on an anti-Muslim platform, and prejudice towards Muslims in Norway is of a cognitive, discursive and ideological nature moderately than of an experience-based nature.

Ziabari: In 2015, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination printed a report stating that Norway is doing too little to
fight the specter of racism and far-right extremist violence. Is the scenario
higher in 2019, or do you assume Norway is failing on the subject of addressing
racial discrimination and xenophobia?

Doving: In 2015, the Norwegian authorities was criticized by the European Fee towards Racism and Intolerance for not utilizing the phrase “racism” in any political plans and applications. Warnings like this, together with the prevalent unfavourable attitudes towards Muslims present in inhabitants surveys and broadly referred to within the media, and the rise in hate crime statistics for Muslims and darker-skinned residents, have, nonetheless, led to a brand new concern for Islamophobia as a type of racism on the political degree.

An illustrative instance of that is that varied political events have
initiated the event of a nationwide motion plan to fight racism towards ethnic
and spiritual minorities. Within the notes written in preparation for the plan, hostility
towards Muslims is particularly addressed. Islamophobia is on the verge of being
understood as a variant of racism current within the midst of our society and never
solely within the worldview of right-wing extremism.

Ziabari: The assaults of July 22, 2011, by which the far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 folks, have been a crucial second for the nation and the West basically. How do you consider the Norwegian authorities’s response to this tragic episode? Have the efforts to fight racism and xenophobia intensified since then?

Doving: In the course of the first weeks after the terrorist assaults, the depiction of the Norwegian folks as one was repeated many times by each politicians and strange folks. By no means earlier than have been the minorities in Norway featured in such a optimistic gentle as in the course of the weeks after the assaults. Minority religions weren’t measured towards Norwegian values, however described as a part of the Norwegian public values. The multicultural side was merely not up for debate.

The newspapers mediated the “multicultural society” because the picture of the
nation. I may even state that July 22 was a turning level within the historical past of
the general public consciousness of Islamophobia in Norway. Nonetheless, the efforts to fight
racism and xenophobia by means of concrete politics didn’t actually improve after
the fear assault, and I feel the rise in give attention to radical right-wing
actions, that are marginal in Norway, has ultimately contributed to a
sure blindness to on a regular basis racism.

Ziabari: The findings of the European Islamophobia Report 2017, to which
you additionally contributed, counsel 14% of Muslims skilled harassment on this
12 months whereas 34.1% of the inhabitants displayed marked prejudices towards Muslims.
Do these figures, in addition to the prevalent sense of non-belonging among the many
Muslims of Norway, level to a significant issue of Islamophobia within the nation?

Doving: Sure they do. Unfavourable stereotypes of Muslims are
widespread in Norway, and 34% of the inhabitants shows marked prejudices
towards Muslims, whereas 28% additionally dislikes and reveals hostility towards Muslims. The
incontrovertible fact that these numbers are from a inhabitants survey and never from a survey
carried out in established anti-Muslim milieus reveals a disturbing diploma of
anti-Muslim attitudes amongst “strange Norwegians.”

However you will need to underpin that the entire image of attitudes
towards Muslims is multi-faceted. There are some good outcomes: 52% agrees with
the assertion “Muslims are good Norwegian residents,” and annual inhabitants
surveys present {that a} bigger majority is optimistic to having a multicultural
society and to immigrants having the identical rights as the remainder of the inhabitants.
These outcomes make an alarmist conclusion of a majority inhabitants that hates
Muslims unconvincing.

Nonetheless, Islamophobia must be combatted and the phenomenon appears — slowly
— to be turning into a problem for political events and debaters impartial of a
proper or left axis in politics. I feel that perhaps the current years’ improve
in populist and extra excessive right-wing milieus has led to a extra hegemonic
public understanding of Islamophobia among the many basic public.

Ziabari: How are Muslims portrayed within the Norwegian media? Does the media operate as a mouthpiece for nationalists and right-wing extremists, or does it give an equal alternative to non secular and ethnic minorities to voice their views and contribute to debate on social, political and cultural points?

Doving: The media appears to own a vast curiosity in
the presence of Muslims, and Islam has for a few years been usually negatively
framed as an illiberal and violent faith. The historical past of so-called
migration debates in Norway is equally marked by depictions of Muslims as “a
political downside that should be solved.” However the media isn’t a mouthpiece for
the far proper — a number of various information websites operate as such, however not the
established media.

Additionally, some optimistic modifications have occurred lately: Norwegian
newspapers at the moment present a extra nuanced image of Islam than they did only a
few years in the past, not least due to the growing variety of Muslims
taking part in public debates. Muslim voices are central to the elevated
recognition of Islamophobia as a societal downside within the enviornment of public
debates. Nationwide newspapers even have journalists who’ve lined
Islam-related points for a number of years and who’ve actively sought data
of Islam and Muslims. A number of of those journalists have contributed to an
elevated give attention to discrimination and prejudice towards Muslims within the press. There
has additionally been a rise in minorities participating in debates, not solely associated
to problems with discrimination and so forth, however being a pure a part of public

Ziabari: Are teams reminiscent of SIAN (Cease Islamization of Norway), that brazenly
encourage anti-Islam views and attitudes, free to hold out their actions
and denigrate the Muslim group, or is there any authorities restriction on

Døving: SIAN is free to hold on, however they’re rigorously
adopted by the intelligence service. Curiously, they’ve simply been
reported for hate crime by the police in Oslo and can be taken to courtroom for
racist expressions towards Muslims.

Ziabari: Is Norway on a path to turning into extra tolerant and inclusive? Typically, is the scenario getting higher for the non secular and ethnic minorities?

Doving: That is an unimaginable query to reply. The overall acceptance for cultural variety is growing in Norway, however on the similar time we have now a rise in hate crimes towards minorities. What I can say one thing about, nonetheless, is that common tradition in Norway — literature, music, TV collection — is extra tolerant and various than ever. It has, to a a lot bigger extent than politics, contributed to anti-racism. It’s by means of common tradition that right-wing populism and xenophobia are combatted, and it’s common tradition that makes variety a pure half of what’s thought of to be Norwegian.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s
personal and don’t essentially mirror Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.

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