On Wednesday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) and Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Abid Raja (V) presented the government’s action plan against discrimination and hatred of Muslims in Norway.
As recently as December of last year, the government presented an action plan to combat racism and discrimination in general.
But the government also believes it must look at its measures to combat hate aimed at Muslims.
“It is a problem in our society that various minorities are exposed to racism. Some minorities are particularly vulnerable, including Jews and Muslims.
We already have efforts in place to fight anti-Semitism, and now we are also presenting a separate plan to fight discrimination against and hatred of Muslims,” Solberg said.
Statistics on hate crime
The police will also have to specifically register crime with hate motives against Muslims, according to the government’s proposal.
That will make it possible to compile statistics that show the extent and prejudices against Muslims.
Religious and philosophical communities can also apply for funding to implement security measures via a newly established grant scheme.
The developments were based on PST’s national threat assessment, which shows that the threat from right-wing extremists has grown.
More knowledge needed
The Action Plan, which will apply from 2020 to 2023, is mainly based on measures to promote dialogue and gather more knowledge.
Among other things, the government proposes a new subsidy scheme against racism, discrimination, and hate speech.
Bridging and democratic citizenship are key words in the Plan, as well as dialogue with young people.
The government also wants more knowledge about discrimination in various areas, for example, in working life.
Criticism of Islam should be legal
Recently, the Islamic Council of Norway announced that the burning of the Koran should not be protected by freedom of expression.
That was one of the Council’s input to the government in connection with the Action Plan.
Solberg expressed concern that incitement and harassment cause many to withdraw from the public debate.
In an article in newspaper Vårt Land, she wrote that the exchange of words about racism often leads to a debate about freedom of expression and whether demonstrations with a racist message should be banned.
At the same time, she emphasized that criticism of Islam should be legal.
“Freedom of expression also includes expressions to insult, shock, or offend. It is not a human right not to be offended. Therefore, criticism of Islam must be defended, but not Muslim hatred,” Solberg wrote in the statement.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today