The Ministry of Culture withholds grants to the Islamic Council

Niqab face-covering Oslo NorwayWoman dressed in nikab in downtown Oslo. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB

The Ministry of Culture withholds grants to the Islamic Council

The Ministry of Culture holds back the grant for bridge building and dialogue with the Islamic Council. The Council does not want to comment on the matter presently.


It is the second installment of the subsidy for 2017 at NOK 650,000 that is held back, the Ministry of Culture informs in a press release on Wednesday.

– The ministry is responsible for ensuring that state grants are managed in a sound manner. This is about ensuring that operating subsidies on the Ministry of Culture’s budgets are used in line with the objectives decided by the Parliamement, Minister of Culture ,Linda Hofstad Helleland (H), states.

The Ministry has after an overall evaluation concluded that there is doubt about the Islamic Council of Norway’s activities and performance regarding the handling of their role in a trustworthy manner.

– Islamic Council Norway (IRN) receives operating funds from the Ministry of Culture to be a bridge builder, umbrella organization and dialogue partner, the Ministry emphasizes.

Secretary General Mehtab Afsar of the Islamic Council Norway will not comment on the subject on Wednesday.

-We will comment at a later stage, Afsar tells NTB.


There has been turmoil around IRN since March this year when it was made clear that the organization spent almost half a million designated for bridge building, communication and dialogue, to hire the 32-year-old nikab-wearing woman, Leyla Hasic, as an administrative employee. It led to strong reactions, and Minister of Culture, Helleland, called IRN to a meeting where she clarified what she expected from the organization.

– IRN is supposed to be an umbrella organization to unite Muslims in Norway. An organization deigned for dialogue, for bridge building, a representative body representing all Muslims. I do not feel that it is, the Minister of Culture told NTB in April.

This is not the first time the support for IRN is held back. The same thing happened last year. At that time, the Ministry of Culture asked for an account of the internal situation in the Council as a result of the entire board’s resignation in June.

The Islamic Council receives NOK1.3 million in annual support from the Norwegian state.

Another meeting

– In the invitation to the meeting, I emphasized the need to talk about the role of the Council as a dialogue partner and umbrella organization for Muslims in Norway. They were only willing to talk about nikab, Leyla Hasic and the appointment. I was not very reassured by this meeting, the Minister of Culture told NTB after the meeting.

The grant for the Islamic Council Norway is paid out twice a year. The last payment was in February. It is therefore the July payout that is held back for now. The ministry announces that they will summon the Islamic Council to another meeting in the summer as part of the further proceedings.

Norway’s largest Muslim community, the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, left the Islamic Council in March because of the disputed employment.

Mosques and Muslim organizations dissatisfied with Islamic Council Norway and Mehtab Afsar, have formed a new Muslim community in early June. The purpose is to work with religious dialogue, Vårt Land wrote on June 9th.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today