Islam World

The Norwegian Veil is slipping

Salams
IL faut refaire l’intro
Norway may have been elected the “happiest country in the world” but Norwegian Muslims may disagree for white supremacy remains a a structural problem for minorities, writes Lauren Booth in her weekly column for LeMuslimPost English.

Since March 2017, Norway has officially been the world’s happiest country, displacing Denmark for the coveted top spot. The ‘World Happiness Report’ was produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), ranking 155 nations in a global initiative launched by the UN in 2012.

Sunshine does not play a significant role by the criteria of SDSN which focuses on: gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom and government or business behaviour in relation to a lack of corruption. Countries like South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea and Togo, languish at the bottom of the list.

“If children of immigrants or those from nations in the southern hemisphere were in charge of compiling the list it would look different”

“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN said in an interview.

I can’t help feeling that if children of immigrants or those from nations in the southern hemisphere were in charge of compiling the list it would look different. Unless it is be empirically true, that, across the socio-religious board, all citizens of Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden enjoy an equality not seen elsewhere.

This idea that each citizen, white or not, indigenous, new arrival or child of immigrants has the same access to the health and wellbeing offered by Nordic nations is a fantasy.

As the Netherlands was being hailed second of the worlds most great places to live, the US department of State included a shocking reprisal of the Kingdoms treatment of minorities. The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Country Reports (2016) states:

‘The most significant human rights problem in the country of the Netherlands was the societal animosity and discrimination against certain ethnic and religious minority groups’. The groups targeted for unfair treatment are listed as ‘particularly Muslim’ immigrants from North Africa, Turkey, and the Middle East.’ 

At the same time this nation of joy and pine flooring has seen a spike in anti-Semitic incidents, including physical attacks.

Travelling the Muslim world I am continually amazed to meet high level university students, business people and citizens across the social divide who will routinely, from peaceful terraces, state a yearning for a life in Scandinavian, Nordic or even British cities. I recently asked a Turkish business student in Istanbul why he too wanted to head North.

 ‘I always read about it and see adverts and the life in Europe looks like heaven’ he said. From a sun kissed patio, with a relatively low rent, overlooking the Bosphorous.

Oslo, is Norway’s architecturally heinous, but functional and clean, capital. On March the 23 the government there proposed a nationwide ban on the full-face veil, such as the burqa and the niqab, in places of education. It still needs to pass through parliament and if it does (as expected) Norway will be the first Nordic country to introduce such a ban. 

It is estimated that less than 200 women nationwide wear the covering. But Norway has enough of the kind of ‘dog whistle’ right wing politicians to make it an issue nonetheless. 

The Norwegian justice minister had to resign after publishing racist posts social media

In fact Norway is going through the kind of political turbulence which should see it lose its Happiness ranking. Perhaps it won’t because what is happening does not shake the white community beyond an enjoyable gossip over a cappuccino.

Sylvi Listhaug, of the anti-immigration Progress party, was until ten days ago also Norwegian justice minister. She had to resign after making a social media post accusing the opposition Labour party of putting terrorists’ rights above national security. It was not the first time her views had courted controversy.

In 2016 she faced calls to resign for posting “Here we eat pork, drink alcohol and show our face. Those who come to Norway need to adapt to our society,” on Facebook. A comment which was liked more than 20,000 times. She has since claimed the post was misunderstood.

Her departure does little to quell the sense that Norway is still struggling to come to terms with sociological schisms and neo fascist traits which far from being a new thread goes back centuries. 

In 2000, the Norwegian government apologised to the country’s Gypsies for decades of oppression under a policy called Norwegianisation. The abuses they suffered until the 1980’s ranged from forced sterilisation to their children being taken away and placed in ethnic Norwegian homes or institutions. There was an accompanying “racial purity” programme that led to an estimated 500 Gypsy women being sterilised. 

Minister of municipalities, Sylvia Brustad, apologised on behalf of the government on national radio for hundreds of years of discrimination. However no compensation to the Gypsy community was found to be ‘appropriate’ since the law already allows compensation for individuals who have suffered injustices. The government instead offered to fund a national centre for the documentation, study and history of Gypsies. Accepting history is seen as a major step forward in the number one state on earth. Atoning for it remains out of the question.

‘Holding them at arm’s length’ is a critical review of Norway’s policy on the Sámi language (2016). Nathan Albury, a critical sociolinguist, has written that until the second half of the 20th century, the Norwegian government forcibly seized indigenous Sámi minority Lands. This effort to eradicate Sámi culture was a government level policy of Norweginisation, known as “fornorsking.” As Gypsy children were being removed from their parents for enforced integration into white Norwegian families so Indigenous Sámi children were being sent to Norwegian boarding schools, where they were beaten for speaking their native language.

Albury wrote a report titled ‘Is life in Norway as happy as it’s cracked up to be?”. He found that:

‘Today, Sámi people are still suppressed by Norwegian policy and experience ten times more discrimination than ethnic Norwegians.’ 

When the media help white terrorists

White terrorists who carry out violent attacks routinely receive a benevolent time from the press (Evidence of Violent Extremism of Little Interest When Killer Is White).

In the same way, a lack of inclusive policies, access to equal justice, health care or legal rights are routinely painted as an aberration in an otherwise tranquil sea of fairness known as Northern Europe.

The propaganda that draws (unwanted) migration from Muslim lands such as Turkey and Sudan paints a picture of a Christian heritage which has led to the complete rejection of injustice, at social-cellular level.

Landing at Oslo airport there is an air of calm, functionality. It is instantly appealing, easeful to the travellers soul. Stepping onto the wood floor of the terminals one can only marvel at the especial organisation we have come to expect of the way of life on the Scandinavian peninsula. 

Scratch the pine surface, another story, lies concealed.

Source: Le Muslimpost

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Lauren Booth

Lauren Booth

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