Norway: Muslims not invited to discussions on new marriage law

Jan Harsem of the Nordic Network for Marriage says that imams, Muslim leaders and the Islamic Council should be consulted about the new marriage laws. He says it's bad that the Muslim religious society which has a right to conduct marriages has not been heard, in the 129 hearing held on the subject.

Last week he contacted the Muslim community on his own to orient them about the consequences of a new law, and said that he found the government had neglected them. He thinks the government's integration policy is hollow and that they have been absent in relation to the Muslim community.

Only the Islamic Council of Norway has been asked for advice on the issue of the new marriage law. They are an umbrella organization but have no right to conduct marriages, says Harsem.

Harsem thinks that the government which is otherwise so preoccupied with getting Muslims to participate should have bee more active on this issues. In many others cases imams, Muslim leaders and the Islamic Council are asked for their point of view. Often people want to be politically correct, but here there's complete silence.

Equality minister Karita Bekkemellem promised last year that the dialog with Muslims will be a priority. This was in response to a question by Adre Oktay Dahl, Conservative party parliament member, regarding what the government is doing to better the situation of homosexual Muslims in Norway. She says one of the challenges they face is that these groups don't have a public spokesperson. At the same time she promised that the government will have good dialog with Muslims in general.

Andre Oktay Dahl says that he is surprised that the government hadn't invited Muslims to the hearings. It shows that when the government talks about integration, it's just a word. They say 'dialog' and do nothing about it. They just can't be bothered to have a dialog. He says that whether people like what the Muslims say or not, they should be heard. He supposed that Muslims should be invited to the hearings just like other religious groups.

Jan Harsem thinks it's necessary for this community to be informed and heard in a proper manner. He says Muslims should get to participate now, later it would be too late.

Shaoib Sulta, general secretary of the Islamic Council of Norway, says that it should be natural to speak with the Muslim communities, who are ordained to consecrate marriages.

The Islamic Council is skeptical about the new marriages laws, especially since it shows that there little or no study of what kind of consequences these laws will have socially. He says they will conduct talks with different communities internally to inform them about this and get more views from the Muslim commnity. At they same time, they will try to meet the politicians and tell them of their reservations.

Source: Dagen (Norwegian)

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