Norway: Apology for dog-child-immigrant comparison

A newly elected Progress Party city councilor for Bergen has now apologized for an interview where he compared the integration of immigrants with raising dogs or children.

Øistein Christoffersen at first seemed committed to the views he expressed in an interview with newspaper Åsane Tidende, but changed his tune after reactions began to build.

"I deeply apologize that, in an interview with Åsane Tidende, made comments on immigration policy that are easy to misunderstand and have been interpreted negatively. I see that my statements can be interpreted this way, especially the comment about setting boundaries and dogs," Christoffersen said in a press release Tuesday.

In the local newspaper Åsane Tidende Christoffersen had said: "We must take care that those who are here are properly integrated. That includes education in both language and how our society works. It is about setting boundaries, and is no different than raising children or dogs."

Christoffersen confirmed the statements to national newspaper Dagbladet's web site, and said he had two dogs himself that he had to raise so they could function in society, and rejected the idea that he feared his comparison might spark reactions.

"No, not if you read closely, then you see that I also compare them with children. Immigrants, children and dogs have to learn to fit in to the society around them," he told

Christoffersen also told Bergens Tidende's web site that people wanted to misunderstand him, and that "Everyone who has a dog knows what I mean."

Christoffersen is councilor for building applications and districts in Bergen, in a Progress, Conservative and Christian Democrat parties led council.

After the Socialist Left Party group leader formally demanded that Christoffersen be replaced in the council, the Progress Party politician decided to apologize.

"I wish I had not said this, because it does not represent my values or attitudes," he said. City council leader Monica Mæland also apologized for Christoffersen's remarks.

The Progress Party has a populist, right-wing profile and has traditionally had difficulty finding political partners in Norway, despite its steadily growing popularity, due in part to a history of xenophobic policies.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

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