by Bruce Bawer
Should one laugh or cry? That perennial question raised itself yet again on January 10 when Norway’s purported newspaper of record, Aftenposten, ran what several readers, in the comments field, quite properly dismissed as a shameless piece of propaganda that, as one of them put it, “stinks” of the “red-green agenda.” The headline: “People with immigrant backgrounds are becoming more like the rest [of us].” The article was based entirely on data from Statistics Norway, the government statistics bureau. Although that agency has a long record of massaging its numbers and serving up frankly absurd prognoses in order to make it look as if Islamic immigration into Norway is less of a fiasco than the average Norwegian man-in-the-street knows it is, Aftenposten‘s reporters, Kjersti Nipen, Øystein Aldridge, and Kjetil Østli, passed them on in the usual reverently unquestioning fashion.
“In some areas immigrants are becoming more like us,” they quoted Statistics Norway researcher Lars Østby as saying, “but there are few areas in which the population without immigrant backgrounds are being influenced by immigrants.” This was, first of all, a highly bemusing claim, given that a crucial element of the rhetoric churned out by the professional boosters of immigration – Islamic immigration in particular – has long been that the influx into Norway of persons with radically different cultural backgrounds enrich the country in extraordinary ways. Could it be that at least some of the longtime purveyors of that line decided that it wasn’t working, and decided instead to try the more modest argument that immigration is a neutral phenomenon that doesn’t really affect the native population one way or the other?
One imagines that Østby’s assertion came as something of a surprise to more than a few ethnic Norwegians who in recent years, thanks to Muslim perpetrators, have ended up in Statistics Norway’s database of rapes, gay-bashings, and other such offenses whose numbers in certain parts of the country have climbed steadily along with the Muslim populations of those areas. Ditto the many people who have felt compelled to move their families out of various Oslo neighborhoods in order to protect their kids from increasing gang violence and to be able to send them to schools that aren’t hotbeds of bullying, harassment, and worse. (It is perhaps worth noting that in addition to Østby, Aftenposten‘s reporters interviewed a staffer at Norwegian Social Research who managed to come up with exactly one specific way in which immigrants may be influencing Norwegians: in Oslo’s immigrant neighborhoods, she said, young Norwegians, perhaps in imitation of their Koran-observant neighbors, are drinking less alcohol. In short: if there is any impact, it’s utterly benign.)
Among those who should have raised their eyebrows at Østby’s statement were the editors of Aftenposten itself, whose archives, after all, are packed with news stories that flatly contradict his pretty picture of today’s multicultural Norway. Only three days earlier, for example, that newspaper ran an article about a new government report which, among much else, recommends that Islamic worship services be permitted in public schools and argues that schoolteachers shouldn’t criticize Muslims’ objections to sexual equality. (To push them on this matter, the head of the report committee insisted, would be to violate their religious freedom.)
Among the specific claims made in the January 10 article was that both “marriage immigration” and fertility rates are down among the Norwegian-born children of immigrants. Anyone familiar with Statistics Norway’s usual sleight-of-hand would quickly have noticed that Østby and his scribes at Aftenposten didn’t label the immigrants they are discussing with the word “Muslim” or even, more broadly, with the term “non-Western,” which would include many Vietnamese, Chinese, and other non-Muslim Asians who, for the most part, have integrated splendidly into Norwegian society. No, they used the catchall word “immigrant,” which of course covers everyone from Danes and Swedes to Americans and Brits. Most important statistically, perhaps, it also embraces Poles and other Eastern Europeans, who, in recent years, have poured into Norway to work in construction and similar trades, providing wily statisticians with figures that allow them to draw glowing conclusions about immigrant employment, crime, family size, and the like – and thus whitewash Muslim immigration.
Østby further contended that the children of immigrants are now going to college in higher-than-average numbers – which is good news for those benighted souls who still cling to the assumption that education and the acceptance of Western values go hand in glove. For a cogent wake-up call on this front, one needed only to turn from Aftenposten‘s January 10 article to a piece by Hege Storhaug posted on the same day at Sappho, the website of the Danish Free Press Society. It began as follows: “Islamization [in Norway] is moving faster year by year…But academia and politicians can’t (or won’t?) puncture the aching abscess.” Without mentioning Østby or Statistics Norway by name, Storhaug tidily shot down the widespread illusion that education is a cure for Islam’s ills by pointing out that the pro-jihadist student group Islam Net, based at University College of Oslo, boasts 2000 paying members. Yes, more and more children of Muslim immigrants are getting higher educations – and more and more of them are joining an organization that segregates men and women, calls non-believers kuffur, and looks forward to a future in which Norway will be part of a sharia-governed European caliphate.
Storhaug took her readers on a brief tour of organized Islam in Norway (a country, remember, with only five million inhabitants, including maybe 100,000 Muslims): the Islamic Cultural Centre, a branch of the Jamaat-i-Islami movement, which is considered extreme even in Pakistan, has 3500 members; the Tawfiq Islamic Center, which supports the terrorists of Al-Shabab, has 5400; Oslo’s Rabita mosque, run by a disciple of Holocaust fan Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has 2500; Minhaj ul-Quran, whose founder has said that any critic of Muhammed, whether “Muslim, Jew, Christian, infidel, man, or woman, will be executed like a dog,” has 3000.
For a clear picture of just how Islam has influenced Norway – and is preparing to influence it in the future – one had only to watch the NRK news-discussion program Dagsnytt 18, also (as it happens) on January 10. The topic was this: Islam Net (see above) had invited a famous Islamic scholar to Norway to give a talk under its auspices. Audun Lysbakken, head of the Socialist Left Party, was concerned that this scholar supports such “barbaric” practices as stoning adulteresses, and had asked Islam Net (pretty please) to disinvite him. On Dagsnytt 18 that evening, you could see Lysbakken meekly repeating his polite request, all the while assuring everyone that he fully respected Islam Net’s freedom of speech (a freedom that, he and other politicians stridently insisted after the Breivik atrocities, should be denied to the critics of Islam). Sitting beside Lysbakken in the NRK studio was Islam Net leader Fahad Qureishi, who, with not an ounce of meekness in his body, passionately dressed Lysbakken down, instructing him that what he called “barbaric” is, in fact, Islam itself, and in using the word barbaric Lysbakken was calling the Prophet himself (“peace be upon him”) barbaric – an act that was plainly, in Qureishi’s view, the very gravest of offenses. Lysbakken, he warned portentously, should choose his words more carefully.
Rarely, if ever, have Norwegians been vouchsafed so concise and vivid a foretaste of what awaits them, or their posterity, if they continue to let their country be governed by the dangerous self-delusions of Lars Østby and his ilk. I’d encourage you to watch the Dagsnytt 18 segment yourself (which begins about 25 minutes into the show). It doesn’t really matter all that much if you don’t understand Norwegian: the steely look in Qureishi’s eyes, the authoritarian tone of his voice, and the feeble, pathetic, baffled reactions to his incendiary tirade by Lysbakken and the program host tell you all you need to know.
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