Norway: More skepticism towards Muslims

The Directorate of Integration and Diversity has published a recent survey on integration attitudes called the Integration Barometer 2006.

According to the Directorate manager, Osmund Kaldheim, people are more skeptic than last year and demand more from the immigrants. 

The research documents several changes between 2005 and 2006.  47% think that the integration of immigrants is going fairly or very badly, up from 37% in 2005.

Kaldheim says it could be contributed to the cartoon rights, disputes about the UDI (immigration service), media reports of the triple murder, and the attacks against women. He explains that in Østlandet, the area around Oslo, skepticism towards immigrations is greatest.  Young men are also more skeptic, probably because they are more affected by the media.

Norwegians are more critical towards Muslims than other immigrant groups.  45% think immigration should be curtailed, but 59% think Muslim immigration should be curtailed.  50% are against building mosques in Norway.

More than 50% think that Islam's values are wholly or partially incompatible with Norwegian values.  That's despite the fact that 60% described their knowledge of Islam as fairly or very bad.

Kaldheim says these attitudes are a big challenge for his Directorate since there's a whole range within the Muslim community, from most restrictive to very liberal.  There are many myths and misunderstandings.  There's a big challenge, both for the Muslim community and for the authorities, to inform the population more about Islam and Muslims in Norway.  He says it is possible to do more in this field.

The good news for the integration director - 26% said they were ready to help immigrants establish themselves in Norwegian society, compared to 19% in 2005.

Source: Nettavisen (Norwegian)

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