Wednesday 22 May 2019

Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Norway

I have been writing on the status of Muslims living in the non Muslim countries and wondering which country should I select next for my series of posts on Life of Muslims in non Muslims countries, when just yesterday a news headlines caught my eyes: "Islamophobes awaken after Coca-Cola Norway releases Ramadan logo." And that gave me the cue for my next post: Life of Muslims in Norway !!
The crescent moon by Coca Cola that has sparked a wave of discontmentin Norway

Before I deliberate on the life of Muslims and status of Islam in Norway, let me first share the news item sparked by the Coca Cola to introduce its brands in Norway with crescent, which is  symbol of Islam, in the ongoing holy month of Ramadan or the month of fasting. In fact it is the first time that Coca Cola has decided to celebrate Ramadan with the Muslims by adding the crescent sign. The news read:
Members of the far-right in Norway and the world decided to give their two Islamophobic cents following the release of the brand's Ramadan campaign. "Islam is not welcome or wanted in beautiful Norway. Go to an Islamic country with this c**p. Try marketing Christian holidays there," one user reportedly wrote on Instagram. Many soon began calling for the boycott of Coca-Cola, threatening to start consuming Pepsi if the campaign is not retracted.
And soon after the display of "Islamic Coca Cola" on the markets shelves, it seems as though Islamophobes want Muslims to be treated as outcasts. What's worse is the fact that they publicly voice their hate on social media. One Islamophobe twittered: If your company is using the crescent moon of Islam in Norway as a marketing tool during Ramadan, I will have no choice but to boycott your products. And that is just the beginning as many such posts have flooded twitter from Norwegians. 

So this just one example sets in the mood for me to write how would be the life of Muslims in Norway. As per Wikipedia [2] "In a national representative survey from 2012, prepared by the Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities, a full 66 per cent of those surveyed reported that they would "strongly dislike" (38 per cent) or "dislike" (28 per cent) a Muslim to be married into their family." And the same year, a study by researchers at the Institutt for Samfunnsforskning found that job applicants with Pakistani-sounding or Muslim-sounding names received 25% less callbacks from employers than 'ethnic' Norwegian applicants given exact similar qualifications and work experience. An older 2006 study concluded that Somali and Iraqi immigrants faced the most discrimination of any immigrant group in the labor market and housing.

In fact, the Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination raised concerns in 2015 about an "increase in... [hate] speech and xenophobic discourse by politicians, in the media and in other public platforms" in Norway. "Stop Islamisation of Norway is a Norwegian organisation which was established in 2008. Its stated aim is to work against Islam, which it defines as a totalitarian political ideology that violates the Norwegian Constitution as well as democratic and human values."

Islam in Norway is a minority religion and the second largest religion in Norway after Christianity. As of 2018, Statistics Norway give a number of 166,861 muslims living in Norway or 3.15% of total population, although, the numbers varies in dependence of the source.

The majority of Muslims in Norway are Sunni, with a significant Shia minority. 55% lived in the counties of Oslo and Akershus. The vast majority have an immigrant background, with Norwegians of Pakistani descent being the most visible and well-known group. Islam in Norway has also some famous converts which includes the ethnic Norwegian man Yousef-Al Nahi and Vegard Bjørge, they are both well known for their engagement on social media, especially when it comes to tolerance and rights for minorities. Other famous muslims from Norway includes Fatima Almanea, Hadia Tajik and Sumaya Jirde Ali. [3]

The Coca Cola example quoted above generally shows the mindset in Norway. In one of the report by the New York Times, it says "Blaming Muslims, at first, in Norway. Whenever anything happens, it is straightaway blamed on Muslims. [4] One may hear such remarks as one quoted by the newspaper: "“You people, you come here and ruin our country!” he yelled. “Norway is peaceful, and now you’re destroying it! Go home. Make your own country crap. Leave ours alone!”

There are may anti-Islam groups, like the Norwegian Defense League, which actively support anti Muslim sentiments and threaten Muslims both openly and otherwise. A few days after a terrorist attack in New Zealand, where at least 50 people were killed in a mosque shooting in Christchurch, Muslims in Norway's northernmost Finnmark County were met by extremist slogans and messages. Stickers calling for "revolution" against Islam have appeared on the local mosque in the town Alta.Incendiary stickers appeared in several public places, such as schools and mosques in Alta and Sør-Varanger. [5]

In 2017, an image that seemingly appeared to show six women in burqas sitting in a bus, sparked a heated debate in a Norwegian anti-immigration Facebook group called "Fatherland first." Members of the far-right group felt that the photo was proof of "the Islamification of Norway."  Later it  turned out that the image wasn't actually of women in burqas; it was just empty bus seats. 

"I'm shocked by how much hate and fake news is spread there. The hatred that was displayed toward some empty bus seats really shows how much prejudices trump wisdom," a member of the group said at the time. The incident came just a month after Norway proposed a bill that would effectively ban the burqa, a face veil worn by some Muslim women, in the country's schools and kindergartens. A year later, in 2018, Norway's parliament approved the bill. [1]
Mosques in Oslo are steadily gaining new converts, given the estimates from researchers specializing in Islam. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

I do not know how much percentage of population in Norway is against Islam but it is also a fact that the number of converted Muslims in Norway increased to at least 3,000 in the recent years, a researcher at Oslo University’s Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages said. Norway’s leading Verdens Gang newspaper reported on Sunday that the number of Norwegians choosing to become Muslim since 1990s have increased. [6] So this means there is a brighter side of the story as well. For if there are converts or reverts as we say in Islam and the number is increasing, this means the inherent attraction of Islam is having a positive effect on the non Muslims of the country.

in 2018 there news that Norway’s anti-immigration Progress Party, part of the ruling two-party coalition, was set to vote on banning the Muslim call to prayer in Norway. There main objection though was more of convenience of public rather than anti Islamic. The said: “A great many people perceive this as annoying and inappropriate. In Norway we have freedom of religion, which should also include the right not to be exposed to public calls to prayer.” [7]

As for Halal meat, the Islamic Council of Norway halal-certifies slaughterhouses, and there are quite a few of them. But the Norwegians do not generally like the idea as one commented: "Yes, Halal meat is available at selected outlets. But seeing as the concept of halal food is barbaric and cruel to animals, and based on superstition and fairytales, I suggest you purchase normal food instead. 

Ramadan comes to Norway too and despite the rather long hours of fasting, the Muslims observe it with strong religious fervor. Muslims living towards the north of the country can expect to fast for up to 20 hours and 20 minutes, while those in Oslo will observe between 18 and 19 hours of fasting. However there are connected challenges too. The biggest challenge isn’t the long hours, but to incorporate her Ramadan in a society that demands constant high productivity and may not value the need to slow down the pace of life.

“The challenge with conducting Ramadan in Norway is to fast in a non-Islamic society,” actress Iman Meskini told CNBC. “Everyday-life continues as usual and society expects you to perform — school, job, exams etc. — at the same level as rest of the year.” [9]

Living in Norway with a nostalgia of lands once one came from is still strong and can be felt. Oslo's community of Gronland is multicultural with a significant presence of Pakistanis, the majority of which belongs to the province of Punjab especially those who feel nostalgic for their cultural roots, like the street life of Lahore, and thus they have named their shops and places after the names of places in their ancestral lands!! Watch the video below [video has no sound]

This is all I could gather in the short time that I had. However I wanted some positivities too but could find any on the internet. May be those living in Norway give their input to make this report wholesome.

Author's Note: The data above has been collected from the references as given below. If any one differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 |
If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More