Norwegian flag waving has long played a major role in the country's Constitution Day celebrations on the 17th of May. A move to integrate foreign flags into Oslo's main parade has been flatly rejected.
Some immigrants think their children should be able to wave their own homelands' flags in the traditional parade.
A group representing immigrants in Norway, Norsk Innvandrerforum, thought children with roots in other countries should be able to wave their own national flags in the parade that involves every school in the city.
The children, claimed the group, should also be encouraged to wear native costumes from their parents' or grandparents' homelands, just like Norwegians wear their national costumes known as the bunad.
That could have meant a lot of flags from countries like Sweden, Pakistan, Turkey and Poland, from which many new residents of Norway have emigrated.
"We think that minorities' culture, language and costumes are now part of the Norwegian society," Athar Ali, leader of Norsk Innvandrerforum, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday. "Minorities also celebrate the 17th of May. Therefore we think they can show off their own traditions in addition to the Norwegian, not instead of them."
More than 35 percent of Oslo school students have non-Norwegian ethnic background. In some schools, the so-called "minorities" make up the majority of the studentbody.
Many non-Norwegians already use their own national dress on the 17th of May. It's not unusual to see Scottish kilts or Indian Saris, for example, on the streets of Oslo that day.
It was up to the city's official 17th of May Committee to decide whether students from immigrant background would be allowed to wave their own homelands' flags in the city parade. While Athar Ali believes it would add to integration efforts, the committee disagreed.
"Only Norwegian flags, Sami flags and the UN flag can be used in the 17th of May parade in the capital," said Amir Sheik, leader of the city's 17th of May Committee who has an immigrant background himself.
Source: Aftenposten (English)
See also: Translating the anthem