The extreme right-wing group ‘Stop the Islamisation of Norway’ (SION), attempted to burn the Quran during a protest in Norway’s Kristiansand, on Saturday.
This action sparked anger amongst Muslims and raised questions about rising far-right sentiments in Norway.
The Scandinavian nation is well known for its prosperity, beautiful nature and generally moderate politics. There are more than 150,000 Muslims living in Norway out of a population of five million.
Despite a good reputation for welcoming other people from among European countries, Norway has been accused of remaining silent and inactive against rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
In August, a gunman attacked a mosque ‘inspired’ by the New Zealand and El Paso anti-Muslim attacks. Two bystanders stopped the would-be gunman opening fire on worshippers in the city of Baerum.
Increasingly the media has provided a platform to the far-right to spread their message arguing that it is a matter of ‘freedom of speech’. Meanwhile, mainstream political parties have pandered to the far-right and therefore legitimised their platforms.
The populist Right Wing Party (Fremskrittspartiet, FrP) entered parliament in alliance with the Conservative Party for the first time in 2013.
The FrP was established in 1987 on an anti-Muslim and anti-immigration platform.
Far-right conspiracy theories have also been spreading amongst Norwegians.
The Oslo-based Human Rights Service (HRS) has long pushed the ‘Eurabia’ theory. The organisation is funded by the state has seen its budget increase over the years.
HRS Director Hege Storhaug campaigned to persuade the public over the similarities between Nazism and Islam.
Storhaug declared “civilisational war against Muslims” in her book which was covered widely by the Norwegian media.
According to Sindre Bangstad, an anthropologist in Norway, white Norwegian men feel they could be losing their privileges amid an increasing immigrant population in the country.
According to a survey carried out by the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies in 2017, negative attitudes towards Muslims were widespread in Norway.
More than 34 percent of society has prejudices against Muslims while 47 percent of respondents believe that: “Muslims largely have themselves to blame for the increasing anti-Muslim harassment, and 42 per cent agree with the statement that Muslims do not want to integrate into Norwegian society.”
More than one in three Norwegians said that Muslims pose a threat to their culture and about 30 percent believe “Muslims will take over Europe”.