Oslo:Muslim leaders concerned about radicalization

Oslo:Muslim leaders concerned about radicalization

Several immigrants contacted Jan Bøhler (Oslo Labor Party, Deputy head of the Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee) and expressed concern about the increasing radicalization in Muslim communities.

"In the past year I've seen more unrest. I've been sought by key people in the communities in Oslo who are concerned that more people are now being attracted by violent extremism," says Bøhler. He says the people who contacted him are concerned about extremism in their own communities. "They speak of small, fanatic groups with violent sympathies."

He was recently in the UK to study how the British authorities are fighting terrorism. "I was quite impressed with how they thought. They set up groups with people from different mosques and other key positions in the minority community. The police and municipal authorities also participate," he says.

In countries like Denmark and the UK, there are 'home-grown' extremists. Networks of such self-radicalized people are often loosely structures groups, consisting of young men aged 16 to 25 who are born or grew up in the West. The youth often see themselves as part of a global Islamist network, where violence plays a central role.

That's how the Danish Center for Terrorism Analysis (CTA) described the development of extreme Islamist groups in Denmark and the Norwegian intelligence service (PST) says it sees the same radicalization process is Norway.

"The portrayal of the radicalization process is consistent with our view of radicalization. At the same time, there are different reasons for radicalization, which can take different forms and can take longer or shorter time," explains Jon Fitje of the PST.

A little more than two years ago, the PST conducted talks with about 25 people in Norway ('bekymringssamtaler' - calling the person into the police station to have a 'talk'). This is a method the PST continues to use.

"We have relatively good experience with talks, and we've used them with various extreme communities," says Fitje.

Internet and social media are increasingly becoming a more important arean - also for people with extreme views. "We don't monitor the Net or registrations. But we get an impression. There's a kind of temperature to the debate, we see it on our Facebook page."

Fitje emphasizes that employers, family, friends nad schools should alert the authorities if they're concerned.

Jan Bøhler thinks ti's important to have dialog with people in the radical communities. "We shouldn't turn them into monsters, because then we create such monsters," he warns.

Justice Minister Knut Storberget (Ap) will present a new plan against radicalization before the New Year's. He admits it's difficult to have programs for early prevention without stigmatizing a whole group.

"One of our goals is not to contribute to more conflict."

He points to exit-strategies which have been used with great success in the Neo-Nazi community.

"It can be talks with youth on their way into undesirable communities. Then you mobilize also family and friends, that's part of the key," says Storberget.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)