Norway: Football player insults praying teammates

Norway: Football player insults praying teammates

Meanwhlie, the Danish Football Federation is calling to ban religious manifestations during games.


Bosnian players Admir Rascic and Fenan Salcinovic scored a goal for their team, Sandefjord, putting them ahead in the Sunday match against Strømsgodset.  The two religious Muslim players went down on their knees for a little celebration prayer, when Espen Nystuen came from behind Salcinovic and made obscene gestures.  (video available here)

Salcinovic was shocked when he told of Nystuen's celebratory gestures.  He says it's not good at all and that it was nasty against him and his religion.  The Bosnian player said he'll speak to Nystuen and ask him never to do it again.

Espen Nystuen says it was very tempting.  The two do this every time and pose so invitingly that he just jumped in.  He did not tell the Bosnians of what he'd done.  He says he doesn't dare to and that they'll see it on TV.  In any case he expected to get a beating during their next training match.

Rascic, who scored the goal, says he sees the whole thing as a joke, but says that Salcinovic is more religious than he is.  But the issue is not completely dead.  Rascic told VG Nett that the season is long and he promises Nysteuen that he'll retaliate.

During Monday's training session, Salcinovic lost his temper at fellow teammate Erik Mjelde, who returned in kind, though he later regretted it.  Mjelde answered that Salcinovic was upset.  He says the joke shouldn't have been made, religion is in the picture and such things should be respected.

The team members spoke and Nystuen explained himself.  Nystuen said that they spoke and that the issue is now closed.  Fenan is fortunately a very understanding man, said Nystuen, who did not think that he's insulting his teammate's religion.  Nystuen explained that he did not realize how important Salcinovic's faith is for him.  He said his actions were a result of lack of thinking.

Espen Nystuen apologizes for having hurt his teammates, and says it was meant as a joke.  He was running to celebrate, and ended us doing something which would have fit better during the gay pride parade in Oslo.

Things were still tense in the team Tuesday, when Malick Mane got upset at Nystuen, and Salcinovic and Rune Hansen had to intervene in order to stop the fight.

Shoaib Sultan, General Secretary of the Islamic Council, told TV 2 Sporten that it should be seen rather seriously.  It's always easy to laugh when it applies to somebody else.  People should look at their own holy things, be they national symbols or other things, in such a context so they'll think that it isn't funny.

Shoaib says he doesn't read religious symbolism into it.  It was insulting and those involved were angry, and the solution is old-fashioned manners.

"I think Islam and the world's Muslims were insulted.  Espen should apologize to both Islam and Muslims.  I think that religion and Muslims were insulted," said 'the victim', Fenan Salcinovic to TV 2 Sporten on Tuesday.

Nystuen says he tried to be a little funny, but it wasn't successful.  He apologizes. 

Salcinovic said he forgives Espen for his actions since he asked the world's Muslims for forgiveness.

Sources: VG 1, 2; FVN; Dagbladet; TV2 Sporten (Norwegian)

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