This last week, we Norwegians have been more concerned with the fate of our countrymen who have been taken hostage in Algiers (desperately awaiting news about them, alas so far not forthcoming), than with whatever is going on in the rest of the world or other areas of the ME, specifically Israel, which is heading to the polls on Tuesday, in all likelihood renewing probably also strengthening Netanyahu’s mandate. However, one story had most of Norway’s polite elites (which then by definition cannot include all of our elites) choke on their coffee; Dagsavisen brought a scoop of a story with the imam and leader of Norway’s largest Mosque, when they claimed that Jews are behind Norwegians’ negative attitude towards Islam. (apologies for bad google translate but you get the gist)
Imam blames Jews for media coverage
Controversial: Jewish media power means that many Norwegians have a negative view of Islam. The imam and leader of the largest mosque in Norway state this
Published: 17 January
Updated: 17 January
Kristoffer Gaarder Dannevig
We are visiting Central Jamaat-e Ahl-e Sunnat mosque to speak to the spiritual and temporal leader of the mosque which has the most members in Norway. The mosque was founded in 1977 and has over 5,000 members. The Culture Center at Grønland in Oslo has room for 2500 people. Nehmat Imam Ali Shah does not speak Norwegian fluently, so the chairman Ghulam Sarwar translate from Punjabi in between.
- But we hold essentially the same views, says Sarwar while the imam nods and smiles – he looks stern and mild at the same time.
The topic of the interview is the relationship between the major religions and Norwegians towards Islam. The imam begins by explaining that all three religions are sacred to them. This is Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Not everyone knows it, says Sarwar. But then follows an argument that many will find far more problematic.
- Jews destructive
- Schoolchildren often visit here in the mosque. Some students may think that we are against Christianity, says Sarwar.
Both Sarwar and Nehmat Ali Shah believe school visits show that Norwegians have a wrong impression of Islam and Muslims.
- Students, journalists and people like you ask the same questions over and over again – forced marriage, hijab, whether women can be imams. No one can be forced to marry in Islam, but parents can help to find a good partner for marriage. Women can not be imams. People lack the knowledge because they have only received information from the media, and the media writes only negative about Islam. Judaism has more media control, says Sarwar.
- Why does the media write only negative things about Islam?
- Because the media has Jewish roots. It’s the Jews who are behind the media -this is what’s so destructive. Those who made the film about Mohammed in the U.S. were only a few and did not have much money. So who is behind them? Who’s behind them? Sarwar asks, referring to the anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims”, created by a Christian Egyptian Copt living in the USA.
- Who are the Jews behind this, do you think?
- I ca not say, I don’t know exactly who. But there are not many Jews. I read that seven million Jews were killed in World War II, so there are not many today. And they were not very many back then either.
- How the Jews have attained such a media power?
- Because of education and business.
Sarwar translates question to Nehmat Ali Shah.
- Jews have great commercial power in the world, the Imam repeats through Sarwar.
- What is the relationship generally between Jews and Muslims?
- Never been any good.
- Why not?
- Why Germans killed them? One reason is that they are a troublesome people in the world, says Sarwar.
- But at the same time you say something positive about the Judaism – it is sacred?
- Yeah, we’re not saying that Jews should be killed or something. Moses is our prophet. However, some individuals will only ruin things, says Sarwar.
- Quran says we should accept all the prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – from Moses to Jesus. If we speak ill of the prophets, then we go against our own scriptures. But it’s not like this for Jews and Christians, adds Al Shah.
- What does the media want to achieve by writing negatively about Islam?
- They write so that Islam will not grow.
The Imam confirmed that Sarwar said.
- Dialogue is very important to us. There may be areas of disagreement but that does not mean we should stop talking together. Dialogue is the only right way, says Chairman Ghulam Sarwar while Imam Ali Shah Nehmat nods affirmatively.
Professor of Journalism Rune Ottosen at the University of Oslo reacted strongly when he hears remarks to the two mosque leaders:
- This sounds like the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of the worst kind, says Ottosen.
He points out that the Norwegian media system is dominated by NRK, TV 2, Schibsted and A-press.
- That even think this way is so remote from reality that I almost can not take it seriously. It is not possible to discuss on such a basis, say Ottosen.
He can agree that that media coverage can be skewed and refers to his own research about the coverage of Islam and Muslims.
- It is clear that there is prejudice. We should have a debate about that. But this needs to be based on actual knowledge of the Norwegian media conditions. These allegations are entirely different. When prominent people say something like that, it just confirms that there is a fundamental anti-Semitism in the large Muslim communities.
Rightly, the two gentlemen in question have been ridiculed right, left and center, but worryingly, leading academics and politicians try to wiggle out of what is an embarrassing admission that indeed large swathes of the Norwegian Muslim community hold disappointing views on Jews and Judaism. Kari Vogt, professor emerita in history of religion, whom I hold in high regard for her academic prowess, was disappointingly trying to smooth over this major hiccup by claiming that there is nothing is Islam that contributes towards anti-Semitism (whereas she was right to point out that the learned Imam is utterly ignorant on Norwegian realities and is unable to read, comprehend, write or even speak Norwegian, even after some 20 years in the Kingdom!) Professor Vogs has been firmly put in her place by others who helpfully have supplied numerous examples where the Qur’an and/or numerous hadiths explicitly state the opposite. Of course, Egyptian president Morsi has also done his bit to ensure that the world in informed about the disturbing views on Jews and Judaism prevalent in the Muslim world.
The leader of the now nearly decimated Socialistic Left Party, Audun Lysbakken, ridiculously tried to impress on NRK listeners that although these two geesers indeed could be said to propagate anti-Jewish sentiments among their congregants, these sentiments would by no means be shared by the majority of Norwegian Muslims. Where he has this knowledge from is in itself questionable, since there has been no study on Norwegian Muslim’s attitudes to Jews (this feature was conspicuously absent from the 2012 survey on anti-Semitism in Norway), but based on his own frightening experience only a few days earlier, when he was threatened on live broadcast for having insulted the prophet, he should have known that the sentiments uttered by the top leaders of the largest Muslim congregation in Norway indeed would be an indication of what members of said organization take to be true. The Frontpagemag article also helpfully listed the largest mosques in Norway and their troublesome views and attitudes to Western society in general, Jews in particular.
Even more worryingly, this mosque has been the most frequented mosque by leading Norwegian politicians, clergy and even royalty, even after it has been known for a very long time that this particular house of worship has a particular taste for blood and terror.
it would be nice to dream that after we have found out the fate of our missing countrymen in In Amenas, the powers that be in the new multiculti Norway now also find the courage to strongly condemn these statements and follow up with a boycott of said congregations until they have hired clergy who are knowledgable about Norway and the Norwegian language, and also understand the gravity of spreading such hate speech at a time when social tensions are on the rise in Norway, now fueled by the fury of the Islamist attack on Norwegian professionals in Algiers.