Norway: Trying to please extremists

After the cartoon riots in January last year, a growing number of people related to Islamist groups have visited Norway. On a number of occasions Norwegian delegations have also met them in the Middle East or Africa. Nettavisen spoke to several experts who believe that Norway wants, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to have a better relationship with the Islamists so as not to be a target for extreme Muslims.

"Norway's connection to Hamas and the fact that many Islamists had been invited or met representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows this," says Diaa Rashwan who is connected to the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

Rashwan says he last met a delegation from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo and that the group, which was from Peace and Reconciliation Section, came to give a good impression of Norway. "Especially to Islamist groups. They wanted closer cooperation and more contact with the Islamists."

He says he had the impression that the group wanted to know more about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which they believed could come to power in the next ten years. He adds that Norway wants to defend their own interests in Egypt and other lands in the area.

He believes Norwegian politicians want to convince Islamists that Norway's support for the USA in the war against terror is not against Islam.

"I am Muslim and there are many moderate Muslims in Norway, but the Islamists in Norway, that control the Muslim Council work to Islamisize Norway. They have close cooperation with Islamist leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi who is more dangerous to Norway than Bin Laden, since he works to Islamisize Europe," says jurist Mohammed Hussein. [ed. al-Qaradawi is head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research]

"The democratic system in Norway and Europe gives room for religious freedom and freedom of speech and finances community and religious organizations. This is being used by the Muslims Brotherhood to infiltrate the Muslim community, recruit members and build the Islamic network which is so visible recently. The theological foundation for the Muslim Brotherhood is the most extreme and fundamentalist direction within Islam, and Dr. Tariq Ramadan is one of them."

Several experts believe Norway is making a mistake when it invites Islamists, for example, to conferences in Oslo.

"Among other things, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, was invited to Oslo several times. His grandfather, Hassan Al-Banna established the most extreme ideology in the Muslim word since 1949. The ideology says that other religions are infidels, that the west are our enemy and that we must fight them until they convert to Islam or pay tax (jezya) to an Islamic Khalifat-state." says Abfel-raheem Ali, who is the head of the Arabic Center for Islamic Studies in Cairo.

He says the groups work to get support from the west in order to get to power in their homeland without going through democratic channels. While the Muslim Brothehood is a banned group in Egypt, with several hundred arrested, Abdel-raheem Ali said the USA and Europe set up appointments with them.

"But does Norway believe that speaking with Islamists can prevent terror attacks from extreme Islamists such as al-Qaida?"

"Norway's partner's are not directly against al-Qaida's ideology. They call Osama bin Laden 'sheik' and speak well of him, Norway can be struck by terror due to Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan," Ali says.

"What if the Islamist opposition in Egypt and other lands in the Middle East will get to power, just as in Palestine with Hamas? Many western countries fear that?

"Why should you in Norway or in the West fear this? Why should democracy be respected only in the Western countries? If people have elected us, the West should accept it. Islamist movements are peaceful movements and want good cooperation with the West. Extreme groups such as al-Qaida give a distorted picture of what most Islamists stand for. Al-Qaida have noting to do with Islam," says one of the heads of the the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh from Cairo.

Mustafa Alani, Senior Advisor & Director of Security and terrorism Studies Program at the Gulf Research Center (GRC) in Dubai, recommends Norway follow Qatar's example:

"Qatar is closely allied with the USA and has the biggest military bases for the US's military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and soon against Iran. At the same time TV broadcaster Al-Jazeera in Qatar has undertaken to show all video and audio from al-Qaida and other Islamist groups. By this Qatar guarantees that they will not be a target for large terror attacks from al-Qaida," he advises.

Source: Nettavisen (Norwegian)

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