Norway: The Sami, minister and minority women (+ VIDEO)

Norway: The Sami, minister and minority women (+ VIDEO)

A summary of several more stories from the on-going debate in Norway regarding the hijab in the police.

For more on the police-hijab debate in Norway:
* Norway: Police-hijab debate
* Norway: Hijab allowed with police uniform
* Norway: 'Norway shouldn't be more Pakistani than Pakistan'


János Trosten, representing Klar samisk røst (KSR) in the Sami Parliament, thinks police wearing a hijab in the Sami areas will be a new oppression of the Sami.

The Sami haven't gotten over Norwegianization, the Sami culture is a fragile one in a revitalization process and it would be very unfortunate to start a new oppression. Instead, they need time to care for their injuries after Norwegianization.

He thinks that Muslims who come to Sami society should accept the norms in this society.

"I don't expect to travel to Muslim countries and go about with a luhka and stjernelue (Sami hats) if was police there," says Trosten.

He emphasizes he's not critical of foreign cultures but that the police should be neutral and follow the norms and customs of the Kingdom of Norway.

He's also upset about how the proposal was made, since he says Norway has two peoples: the Norwegians and the Sami and that it was inappropriate for the justice minster to make such a proposal, which has great consequences for the Sami, without hearing the Sami parliament at all.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)


Karita Bekkemellem, then the Minister of Equality, said in parliament on April 24, 2007, that she doesn't think hijab is discriminatory. This was in response to a question from Labor Party politician Saera Khan regarding the possibility of minority women taking part in society.

In a recent debate on channel FEM, Bekkemellem (Labor Party) said exactly the opposite:

After the debate Bekkemellem told Dagbladet that she compares the hijab to FGM, since in both cases men want to set limits to women. "We must be unafraid and dare to set limits for is acceptable in today's society".

How does this compare with what she said back in 2007?

"Several times we had in Norway a discussion about religious headdress and whether it's an expression of oppression or an expression of freedom of religion. Is it, for example, oppressive if a woman wears an hijab? No, I don't think so. The debate going on in recent days about whether it's possible to sell clothing with a hijab is for me incomprehensible. But if women due to social pressure dress such that we can't see their face - yes, then we passed the line for what I think is acceptable in an equal society. It's not certain that banning is the way to go - but I also don't want a society where women are so covered that it obviously sets clear limits to their social life."

Asked about both statements, she said it should be understood in context:

"The statement should be seen in context with things I said earlier, namely that historically the hijab and burka were used by men to limit and hold women back. I respect women who say that they use it for voluntary reasons," she says.

"I don't say that we should ban the hijab and burka, but I don't want it to be a natural part of society. We still don't have a blasphemy law, so I have a right to say what I want. And it's possible this is an attack on religion, but I reserve the right to work for women's rights".

- But shouldn't you respect women's right to choose to wear a hijab or burka?

"It's not about that I don't respect them, but that there are many Muslim women who don't want to wear a hijab or burka. I want to fight for their case."

- Do you feel it's easier to say what you think, now that you're no longer a minister?

"I feel naturally freer now to have much more direct argumentation. When you sit in government, you must balance the whole time between many different considerations. But I was always involved in issues that involve equality and discrimination. Through the years I stood in many debates about concerns of faith society, everything from removing state support to organization with discriminatory practices to the board composition of the mission."

Bekkemellem was criticized for her recent remarks.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian), h/t R.


Norwegian police women of a minority background gathered together for the first time, talking mostly about the hijab-debate, bu also about other issues relating to working in the police.

Arne Johannessen, head of the Police Officers' Union, called it a historic meeting, since the minorities in the police have never gathered before. He said that all the members who contacted the union - including minorities - are against the police-hijab, and that they will now conduct a closed-door dialog with them.

The initiative to the meeting came from female Muslim agent who reacted strongly to the government's proposal to allow a hijab.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

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