Norwegian Mosques establishes network

Nikab, Islamic Council, IRN, Mosque MuslimThe knowledge minister's claim that Nikab is a barrier to communication is not based on any research that supports the claim, according to the Islamic Council Norway (IRN). Photo:

Mosques establishes network after detachment from Islamic Council Norway

The five religious communities that have detached themselves from the Islamic Council Norway (IRN) have established an alternative organization for dialogue with the authorities and other religious communities.


The new has been named Muslim Dialogue Network Norway (MDN), according to the newspaper Vårt Land (Our Country). It was founded on Thursday and consists of the Islamic League (Rabita), Islamic Community Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albanian Islamic Culture Center, Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) and Centre Rahma.

– We will dialogue with Government, religious groups and other actors in society, says  chairman of the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC), Arshad Jamil.

Tried everything

Head of the MDN Interim board is Senaid Kobilica, who is the main Imam of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway’s largest Muslim community.

After the Minister of Culture this autumn revoked state grants to the Islamic Council of Norway and meat producer Nortura withdrew from cooperation on halal certification, several mosques left the organization.

– We have tried everything in our power to make changes, says Jamil, referring to the conflicts in the Islamic Council Norway (IRN).

No surprise

Ingrid Rosendorf Joys, Secretary-General of the Co-operation Council for Belief and Life Societies (STL), says she sees the newly founded organization as a consequence of the fact that several of the major mosques have left IRN.

– We need the Muslims to get a good hold on life on a national level, and anything that contribute to this is positive. But at the end of the day it is up to the Muslims how they choose to organize themselves, she says to Vårt Land.

Raja is supportive

Abid Raja (Liberals) tells NTB that he is positive to the creation of a Muslim network.

– I have great expectations regarding MND. I hope they will be both bridge-building and understanding. Young Muslims and the society at large need this, says Raja, announcing that the Liberals want to grant NOK 2 million in support for MDN in their alternative budget.

– Norway needs a Muslim network, which can build bridges and create dialogue. Now that IRN is deprived of its support and has played out its role, I think it is important that the Norwegian society is siding with those who have left IRN, Raja says.


Facts about Islamic Council Norway (IRN)

  • 1989: Islamic Defense Council, which many consider to be the forerunner of Islamic Council, was created. The reason is that Muslims in Norway protest that Salman Rushdie’s novel “Satanic verse” is published in Norwegian.
  • 1993: Islamic Council is formed. IRN’s goal is to ensure contact and dialogue with the greater society and to promote and inform about Muslim issues.
  • 2011: Norwegian Pakistani Mehtab Afsar took over as Secretary General after Shoaib Sultan. In the years there has been considerable turmoil in the organization. Many have pointed out Afsar personally as a reason for the infighting
  • On June 4, 2016, IRN’s board of directors resigned in protest after they wanted to dismiss Secretary General Afsar.
  • * In 2017, the nikab clad Leyla Hasic was employed as an IRN administration consultant. After this, the Government announced that they were suspending aid to the organization.
  • In June, the Co-operation Council for Belief Systems (STL) announced that they considered terminating cooperation with the Council due to little communication and lack of trust. In October it became apparent that the work committee in STL wants to suspend IRN from the counsil.
  • September 2017. Five major muslim organizations with a total of around 20,000 members leave IRN. In October, five more mosques follow suit
  • October 2017. Nortura informs that they terminate the agreement on halal certification with Islamic Council Norway. The agreement has secured IRN millions since 2006.
  • October 9, the government announced that they would propose to the Parliament to stop the annual state grant of 1.3 million kroner to IRN. Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland (Conservatives) states that the organization no longer has credibility
  • The organization still states on its websites that they represent 38 Islamic member organizations and religious communities across the country, representing more than 65,000 members. Earlier this year, they fronted more than 80,000 members.

©  NTB Scanpix / Norway Today