Norway: An interview with new immigrant party head

Norway: An interview with new immigrant party head

I am not sure whether the party actually exists, but this guy still gets a stage, nonetheless.


"If Norwegians weren't drinking alcohol, having sex before marriage or eating pork, they would have been the world's best Muslims. They are honest, not criminal and love peace," says Ghufoor Butt (63).

Butt is the head of the new party Independent Labour Party (ILP) and the first candidate for the party in the year's parliamentary elections.

- Aren't you afraid people will confuse you with the Labor Party?

"Nobody protested yet. We are a party for everybody who works, also immigrants. Therefore we have an international name," says Butt, who came to Norway in 1974. He doesn't understand why Norwegians feel threatened by Islam.

"That we don't have sex before marriage or drink alcohol is not a threat against Norway. Muslims love Norway and many changed their citizenship to become Norwegian. We are no threat," says Butt.

Today Butt is renowned in the Norwegian-Pakistani community. He played in twenty Pakistani films and is still a big name in Pakistan, and was a famous Pakistani political journalist. In Norway he's most known for going on a hunger strike in 2006 against the high flight prices between Norway and Pakistan.

Today he runs a movie shop in Grønland which sales Bollywood movies. He also direct and produces film, the last one "Mukhtaran Mai" he produced in 2002.

On April 28 Butt will travel to Pakistan to launch the new Norwegian party.

"There I will appear on the two Pakistani TV channels GEO and ARY to speak about the new party," says Butt.

- Isn't it strange to launch a Norwegian party in Pakistan?

"No. Most Norwegian-Pakistanis watch these two TV channels. So if you want to reach them, these are important channels," says Butt.

- Do you rely only on Norwegian-Pakistani votes?

"No. We have four Norwegian candidates and we also want ethnic Norwegians to vote for us," says Butt.

In many ways, Butt's party is similar to the Progress Party (FRP). They wants to lower gas prices, do away with tolls and introduce lower taxes.

"We are the world's richest country. Therefore I don't understand how it is possibly to have such expensive gas," says Butt. He thinks FRP has done too little to get this. "If they had really fought for lower gas prices and to do away with the tolls, they would have gotten it till now. I promise to fight harder," says Butt.

Even if Butt shares FRP's position on lowering gas prices and tolls, he has a diametrically contrary position on the integration debate. The party wants to make family reunification easier and will give an automatic Norwegian visa to anybody who marries a Norwegian citizen. They want to do away with the requirement of earning 270,000 kroner a year in order to bring a new spouse to the country.

"This is unjustified against young Norwegian-Pakistanis who are in the phase of establishing themselves," says Butt.

In additional he wants to give obligatory mother-tongue education to the six largest immigrant groups in Norway and that all religious leaders like imams and priests will have a state salary.

"When one sees how little money most mosques have, it is necessary to help them with salary for the imams," says Butt.

The party is not as tolerant towards others. When it comes to the Muhammad cartoons and homosexuality, Butt answers shortly.

- What is your position on the Muhammad cartoons?

"This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. We can't allow mockery against religions like the Muhammad cartoons," says Butt.

- Should those who published the Muhammad cartoons in Norway be punished?

"Yes, they should be punished"

Butt also wants to ban homosexual practices and says that homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to marry.

On Monday Butt rings back. He wants to specify that homosexual practice is forbidden in respect to Islam and that it is he personally who is against homosexual practice, not the party.

"We don't want to change Norwegian law," says Butt.

The 63 year old is critical of the USA's war against terror and puts a question mark over the Western media's depiction of Osama bin Laden. He says that Muslims aren't served by the terrorism of Osama bin Laden and that terrorism is illegal in Islam. He thinks the US is responsible for most of the terrorism in the world.

"How is it possible that they haven't succeeded in catching Osama bin Laden? Either he doesn't exist, or he's working for the US and living there now," says Butt.

The Norwegian Pakistani is also skeptical about the official version of the terror attack of September 11, 2001.

"Where were the Jews? and how many were killed? It is a question I think we don't have an answer for today," says Butt, who thinks the Israeli intelligence service Mossad might be responsible for the attack.

"The USA didn't answer the big questions. Who was responsible for the attack? It's also a big question mark how many Jews were killed? This we don't know today," says Butt.

- Are you antisemitic?

"I have nothing against the Jewish people, but I think one should be able to ask these questions," says Butt.

- Many will interpret this as hate against Jews

"That's not correct. I'm against what the Jewish people do against the Palestinians, but I am not against the Jewish people," says Butt.

As a young man Butt participated as a soldier in the war between India and Pakistan in September 1965. Today he wants to pull Norway out of the war in Afghanistan.

"Norway has nothing to do in Afghanistan, and one of the party's most important issues is to stop Norwegian military participation in the country. Norway is the country of peace. It shouldn't watch what the USA is doing when it comes to Afghanistan and Iraq," says Butt.

The politician thinks Norway should support Pakistan in the Kashmir fight with India.

"Norway should support Kashmir's Independence," says Butt.

The minority politician had his own list in the municipal elections of Oslo in 1995 and 2007, without success. Butt still thinks they will succeed where others have failed. He says he has a lot of support for this and believes that people trust him.

By fall he hopes to have a place in parliament, but it doesn't stop there.

"My hope is that in fifteen years Norway, like the USA, will see a 2nd generation immigrant in the job of prime minister," says Butt. He also hopes for big results in the municipal elections in three years.

"I think the mayor in Oslo in three years will be a Norwegian Pakistani," says the Norwegian Pakistani.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

See also:
* Norway: New immigrant party
* Oslo: Imam blames 9/11 on US in college lecture

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