The leader of Høyre, Erna Solberg has said in an interview with VG that Muslims in todays Norway are being treated like the Norwegian Jews were treated in the 1930s. To be very fair (and this is of fundamental importance in todays Norway), she has underlined that Muslims today are not subject to the brutal repressions as Jews were in the 1930s but thinks that the extreme agitation against Muslims, bears resemblance to hatred against Jews.
This is an important clarification. I ask you to keep it in mind.
She says (unauthorized translation)
I have been in touch with ethnic minority youths, who are born and raised in Norway. Their greatest challenge is that they are frequently met with claims that they are not Norwegians. It ranges from discrimination at nightclubs, to always having to answer where they originally come from. They are met with different expectations based on prejudice, and many individual Muslims are being held collectively responsible for actions of all Muslims.
She is careful to relate this to the job market in particular, that if you have a foreign sounding name, your chances of being called in for job interviews become very small.
Lets analyze the various components of this statement (which, for all we know is not 100% representative of what she actually said in the interview, this is what VG chose to write):
1. Denied access to nightclubs based on ethnicity. Undoubtedly a racist practice, but not in itself specifically anti Muslim. Most Norwegians with a skin color distinctly different than white, regardless of religion can tell of similar stories.
2. Question of origin. If this question pops up in a job interview it is not a permissible question, as it can hardly be said that ones genealogy is relevant for how well one can perform the defined tasks of a given job. It is as irrelevant as asking a woman if she plans to have children; it is discriminatory but fails to distinguish between a Sikh, or a Buddhist, a Christian of ME origin. If, on the other hand, the question arises in a social setting, it could be a way of expressing interest in that particular person, to know more about a persons background, their personal story. But, it can also be a very intimidating question, in particular if you are struggling to reconcile the different components that build your personal identity and national belonging.
3. To be held collectively responsible for the acts of other Muslims. This one stinks to high heaven of unambiguous anti-Muslim sentiment, similar to the stigma Jews around the world face.
Chasing Muslim women and children down the streets on July 22 was also a serious transgression, a pure anti-Muslim act. It is despicable and if anybody were caught doing so, they should be harshly punished in a court of Law.
However serious this everyday racism is, regardless of whether it is explicitly directed against Muslims or against anybody who looks different, it does not come close to the persecution of Jews in the 1930s.
Here are a few excerpts from the monthly magazine Hatikwoh in the 1930s:
February 1933: on Hitler as Reichs chancillor: Most Jews doubt that Hitler will deliver on any of the agitation against Jews in his electoral campaign.
July 1933: Disturbing signs: Lately there have been several unfortunate events at some schools where pupils adorn themselves with the Swastika. What the Swastika actually means, we leave for a later opportunity to discuss. Regardless, it serves to intimidate Jewish pupils, who naturally feel upset by this symbol, which is widely accepted to be anti-Semitic…… Officials of the Jewish communities have written to the schools regarding this, and we can provide a letter of reply from the School Inspector Dr. B. Ribsborg: The College of Headmasters has received your letter, and been made aware of the situation. Incidents such as the one you describe should immediately be reported to the corresponding headmaster.
August 1935: The war of extermination of German Jews: An analysis of how the Nazi party already are focusing their legislative thrust against the Jews: In an editorial of August 3, the chief of the German police General Kurt Daluege said the following: The legal measures, which must follow the German people’s declaration of belonging to the race, will deny Judaism any foundation for any current or future position of any kind…. As a consequence of this, unless a miracle takes place, we must assume that the legal measure that will ensue will be very harsh and include a prohibition on any sexual or familiar encounter between Jews and non-Jews… A prohibition against economic association between Jews and non-Jews… Jews will be denied access to baths, public parks and spaces….
December 1938: the 10th anniversary of Hatikwoh in Norway. An article called It will never happen here, relates how the Norwegian public rejects the notion that the Nazi mentality could become pervasive here. Politically there is no fertile ground for national socialism in the free, democratic Norwegian people, and on the human level, it offends the chivalrous and humane sentiment among every Norwegian….. Apparently everything is in perfect order. But a profound sense of doubt tears into our comfortable convictions. Because, practically in the same breath as demands are being made to save the refugees, the one reservation after the other to prevent Jews entering the country is quietly being snuck in. Regardless of how much one desires to help, under no circumstance must too many Jews be allowed into the country. An invasion of Jews will easily lead to a Jewish problem here too, with all the dangerous consequences.
This was written about 1 month after the Kristallnacht in November 1938 – in 2004, Norwegian Jews were denied participation in the annual commemoration of the Kristallnacht in Oslo.
The educational portal folkemord.no has this bit of additional information:
After the Labour party rose to power in 1935, the policies towards political refugees from Germany became somewhat more liberal, while it continued to be very restrictive towards Jews. Racially based persecution was – in contrast to political persecution, not regarded as sufficient grounds for asylum. There was a broad political consensus around this practice, and it was only after pressure from humanitarian organizations like the Nansen Aid that the authorities allowed a slightly higher number of Jewish refugees than earlier. In 1940 there were approximately 500 Jewish refugees in Norway. Several of the Jewish refugees from Nazi-Germany earned distinction in several areas of public life, in particular the sciences and culture.
In 1942, Norwegian citizens with Jewish background were rounded up by the Norwegian police and their acolytes, and transported to Poland to be murdered there. According to the educational portal folkemord.no
In Norway, the racial extermination policies only hit one group of Norwegians, the Jews.
The Nazi occupational forces showed very little interests in other groups who were considered inferior according to the Nazi world view. In Norway, neither the Roma people, homosexuals, the physically or mentally disabled, were systematically persecuted by the German authorities during the 5 years the occupations lasted.
In 2006, the Holocaust center in Oslo organized a seminar on the acquittal of the man who was instrumental in executing the German order to round up the Jews in 1942, Knut Rød. In the wake of this seminar, Dagbladet (and also Aftenposten) wrote this:
The Rød case, in all its aspects, stands out today as a symbol of the public, institutionalized collaboration that took place in Norway under the German occupational forces, in particular expressed through the symbiosis between the occupation force and Norwegian police. This was an alloy that showed its frightening efficiency when Norwegian Jews were arrested to be deported out of the country. The case is in equal measure an expression of the Norwegian reluctance to admit and relate to how Norwegians, who not necessarily were motivated Nazis, could become involved and be active in the operative core which carried out the action against the Jews. The Rød acquittal is a beautified verdict. Together with other traitor trials against persons who participated in the registration, arrest and economical liquidation of Norwegian Jews, this verdict deserves to be further dissected and investigated. It is therefore depressing that a prominent Norwegian High court judge (Rieber Mohn, at HL center seminary) would prefer to continue to paint such a beautified vision.
THIS is the crux of the matter, this is what we should discuss – how “Jews were considered to be outside the collective – before, during and after the war to the extent that Norwegians thought the deportation somehow was an external matter”
Unless we as a nation deal with our difficult past, we will continue to make the same mistakes, over and over again. This is what we owe our Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu and other newcomers, to integrate them without annihilating them or force upon them assimilation.
But we must also deal with aspects of immigrants’ inherited prejudices against other minority groups: this blog was founded on the scary appearance of signs calling for the extermination of Jews during very violent protests against Israel’s war against Hamas bombs in 2009.
Oslo was turned into a battlefield where people who were believed to be Jewish were beat up on the street, 12 year old kids were told to chase Jews, and where Muslims rose to the ancient battle cry of Khaybar Khaybar al yahud. Our elected politicians and academic elite chose to ignore it, the perpetrators were acquitted and once again all Norwegians were let down by the failure to address this dangerous and unprecedented violence.
We must be able to discuss all the aspects of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism.
It is just as unacceptable to prejudice against a Muslim just because she is a Muslim as it is to be biased against Jews. But we are taking a very dangerous road if, out of fear of upsetting people, fail to talk about some aspects of Muslim intimidation of Jews.
But we must do so by being responsible, by addressing the particular issues with facts.
VG had to close their talkback for their article today. Many of the comments were so inflammatory, so derogatory that they could not be published .
You are welcome to comment here, but I warn you, and ugly language, any attack on any ethnic group, any hatefilled garbage will be promptly deleted and the author banished.
Tread carefully, we all have to live together!