Norway: "Norwegian culture threatened by Muslims"

Norway: "Norwegian culture threatened by Muslims"

Steinar Lem is a Norwegian Leftist who recently started off a public debate with his article, posted on the Human Rights Services site (in Norwegian), in which he called to stop non-Western immigration to Norway. The following is an interview in Dagbladet about his article, followed by a response from Thomas Hylland Eriksen, fellow Leftist.


"Oslo will soon have a majority of non-Western background, at a steady rate the same could happen all over the country during this century. Most non-Westerners will have a Muslim background. The consequences will be dramatic."

This is Steinar Lem (57), the famous environmentalist and author who writes this on the Human Right Services site.

In the past Lem criticized Norwegian immigration policies on Aftenposten, now he goes further.

The environmentalist compares Norwegian culture with the Tibetan and thinks that over time it will be threatened by immigration.

"The Norwegian culture is just as worthy of preservation as the Tibetan culture," writes Lem and says that therefore non-Western immigration should be strictly restricted. Lem thinks Norwegian culture should be setting the tone in Norway.

"Norwegian culture is threatened. In the next 50 years we will see great changes related to that we steadily have a larger non-Western population. Our values will be placed under much pressure," says Lem to

Less than two weeks ago Lem appeared in Dagbladet and said that he has cancer, and less than a year to live. He didn't think to live this time in silence.

"The truth is that if I hadn't been seriously sick of cancer and been working, I couldn't write this," says Lem. He think the theme of immigration is taboo in the Norwegian public.

"If you aren't interested in climate and want to maximize the oil output you are good man, but if you want to change Norwegian immigration policies you are evil. It's interesting how things have been defined so irrationally," says Lem.

Lem also wanted to wait with taking this up till he no longer represented"Framtiden i våre hender" (The Future in our hands, a group believing in wealth distribution and cutting down on consumerism)

He says that if he would have written this earlier he would have gotten strong reactions and people would have wanted him out. Now he thinks the members are generous enough to allow him freedom. He thinks Norwegian immigration polices have never been properly politically discussed:

"In the 80s good people wrote in the paper that immigration was so little that it won't majorly affect Norwegian lifestyle and character. So there was a bit of silence until the same good people wrote in the 90s triumphantly that Norway was already a multicultural society where Norwegian culture couldn't demand any special position. Norwegian has no special position in Norway? Many of the same people are concerned that China will erase Tibetan culture and that Indian tribes in South America will be victims of timber production and will be forced to move to the nearest big city."

"I use Tibet as an example because everybody agrees that it's a great and intelligent culture who require protection. There must be legislation to see Norway the same way. It's completely legitimate to wish for a multicultural Norway and a social experiment, but it's must also be completely legitimate to think the opposite," says Lem.

The author thinks that integration on mostly Norwegian premises won't be carried out if the surge of "people without eduction and with patriarchal and hierarchic attitudes" becomes too big:

"If the part of people in Norway with Islamic background becomes large enough we will have major setbacks for gender equality in Norway - due to the Norwegian social-relativistic thought that we should respect other cultures. We must accept large groups of girls who can't have contact with boys on their free time, don't participate in school trips, but strengthen the segregation between the pure with hijab and the whores who don't cover themselves. This will also affect the status of Norwegian women," writes Lem.

"The attitudes towards homosexuality and freedom of speech will also suffer setbacks," he claims.

Lem is strongly critical of the rest of the Left, who he thinks aren't capalble of handinlg the problem:

"It should be legitimate to speak openly. The way it's now it's only the egoist party FrP who dares to speak of a change of immigration policies and get many votes for it, sometimes I think is tragic both in regard to global warming and the general egoism which is the heart of the entire party's policies where attacking the immigrant communities is most used to camouflage life-threatening sides of Western culture."


Thomas Hylland Eriksen tells that in fifteen years the number of immigrants had doubled without anybody noticing anything. This shows that immigration to Norway has gone by surprisingly painlessly, says the profess of social-anthropology at the University of Oslo.

"It's the irrational fear which caused that you are a bad person if you think the same as Thomas Hylland Eriksen or other illustrious immigration supporters," writes Lem

Eriksen thinks Steinar Lem is bursting through an open door.

"Nobody disagrees on this. Naturally, we must all be clear in regard to what are our values, whether we are Christian, Muslim or atheists, environmental-pigs or climate champions. But we can't count on everybody sharing our own image of the world. When people come here with old gender role and carry one with ancient children's upbringing we naturally try to influence them to become more like ourselves," says Eriksen.

"If Lem thinks I'm not a supporter of human rights and equality, he couldn't have read any of what I wrote. I am not a culture-relativist, I've been declared a culture imperialist for over twelve years. I go in for the best in the legacy of the Enlightenment, which besides are European and not specifically Norwegian, but at the same time, I see nothing wrong in treating people who think differently with a minimum of respect and openness," says Eriksen.

Eriksen criticizes Lem's defense of 'Norwegian culture'.

"Cultures are dynamic and change all the time. The ideal the women should have the some rights as men, are neither a Norwegian invention and have just been around for one generation in this country," says Eriksen.

Eriksen thinks Norwegian culture will become stronger through immigration.

"This transnational movement to and fro contributes to the spreading of Norwegian culture and so it becomes greater. When I was 19 I saw for the first time two immigrants who spoke Norwegian together. Then I thought, word for word: 'Damn, now Norway is really in the process of becoming a great culture', says Eriksen.

He says that now one can go to the heart of Pakistan and be understood in Norwegian.

"Norwegian-ness is becoming greater when more and more people are able to communicate in Norwegian. Norway is probably first and foremost a language community," says the professor.

Eriksen is also uncertain about what Lem means when he speak of "Norwegian values".

"I think he means classic European values, which appeared during the Enlightenment. The values I can't see that Norwegians are in the process of losing, it should be documented in such a case," says Eriksen.

On the other hand, it's not possible to open a newspaper without somebody or other writing about the meaning of democratic and humanistic values, Eriksen says. He thinks Norway can learn something from the USA. He says that the USA is in the process of becoming browner and within a few decades, a majority of the USA's population will be 'brown'-skinned. The American public is taking this in a very relaxed attitude, as long as the country's people continue to to pass on the stories of what the USA is.

Source: Dagbladet 1, 2 (Norwegian)

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