Norway: Proposal for loyalty oath

Norway: Proposal for loyalty oath

Norwegian lawyer and Liberal Party parliament candidate Abid Q. Raja wrote an opinion piece in last week's Dagbladet, saying that immigrants should pass a citizenship test before getting citizenship and take an oath of loyalty to the Norwegian constitution and flag, following the American tradition.

He suggests the following oath: From this point forward, I swear my loyalty to Norway and its people, to its democratic view, which I share, to its rights and freedoms, which I respect, and to the laws in effect at any time, which I profess to live by.

Raja says that a Norwegian citizen should speak Norwegian, and that this is not a racist demand.  Being a Norwegian citizen means being loyal to the country, says Raja, and having obligations, and that should be clear.  He adds that the Norwegian Left has neglected this requirement out of fear of being called racist, but this is not about racism, it's about requirements for citizenship.

Starting in 2011, all new citizens must either complete Norwegian studies of 600 hours or do a citizenship test.  Raja says it's obvious that one should be able to speak Norwegian, at a level that would allow them to read a paper, function at work and understand what's happening in society.

In a dialog-meeting Raja organized regarding imam's responsibility in society, the lawyer said that he's gotten very strong responses from Norwegian Muslims.

In an interview to the VG Nett news site he showed an SMS he received which said as follows:   "Salam Aleikum.  I have a couple of questions you should think about.  Have you become a kafir?  You begin to sound like a Christian Crusader.  Swear to the Norwegian constitution every day and kiss the Norwegian flag day and night every day, but don't expect that the rest of us Muslims will do the same.  You're too smart to play an idiot...  Your sucking up is completely nauseating.  Once you were a sympathetic person.  Now we'll manage better without you.   I'm deeply disappointed by the person you've become.  To get Norwegian citizenship should depend on whether you've done serious crime, nothing more. If you, who called Norwegian women in some newspaper or other cheap whores or something similar can get citizenship, others deserve it as well.  Stop playing!"  The SMS is signed as 'law abiding Muslims, in Norway for 34 years'.

[The reference to 'cheap whores' probably refers to an interview Raja conducted with young immigrant men who voiced such opinions.  Apparently, some people are sure he made that comment.]

Q: Does this mean that they think you can be killed?

Asked if he thinks he could be killed for it, Raja answers that it's not a threat, but an attempt to harm his self-image by telling him Muslims consider him a kafr. 

The Liberal politician tells of a flood of responses after he came out with his proposal for a citizenship test.  The Conservative Party, as well as state secretary Libe Rieber-Mohn (Labor) also proposed testing new countrymen's knowledge before they get a Norwegian passport.

"I've gotten a lot of angry and irritated feedback by e-mail and test messages," says Abid Raja.  "But also a lot of good feedback from Muslims.  One group is Norwegians, but also many Muslims, all in all there is just as much positive as negative."

Raja believes the reason for the strong responses is that other Muslims believe he's now become Christian, because the Norwegian flag is adorned with the Christian cross in white and blue.

He says he's not Christians, and is not swearing an oath to Christianity this way.  And that probably only very few Norwegians see the flag as a Christian symbol.

He will continue to demand knowledge of Norwegian for those who want Norwegian citizenship.

"When you ask for a Norwegian passport, it means loyalty to the flag.  To swear an oath to the flag has nothing to do with being Christian at all."

Well known young Muslim Usman Rana strongly rejects the SMSs and threats against Abid Raja.

"I think they've misunderstood," says Rana, who doesn't think an oath of loyalty is essentially new.  "But it can be positive taking consciousness-raising into consideration in regard to loyalty to Norwegian law."

One of the young Muslims who responded to Raja's flag proposal is Zakaria Saaliti.  He doesn't think that Raja has become Christian or that he's an apostate for calling on new countrymen to swear loyalty to the flag, but he still disagrees.

"I don't see the purpose or how it can be of benefit.  A criminal is a criminal, regardless of what he swears to," says Saaliti to VG Nett.

Abid Raja thinks, on the other hand, that an oath to the flag is a step to improving inclusion and points to the experience from the USA.

"Swearing loyalty to the flag means something in relation to the loyalty to the country.  Just the symbolism of swearing to the flag means an actual commitment," says Raja, who hopes that it could be like in the USA, where now you take an oath to the constitution and the flag when you're American.

Raja is also proposing that the state employ three imams full-time to teach about Islam and issues in the social debate in schools around the country, saying that if they manage to prevent rape, crime and terrorism, the money would be well used.  He admits it's a little paradoxical for a Leftist to make such a proposal, but that the money could be channeled through the Islamic Council, and so they would not be employed directly by the state.

Raja also thinks that the problem in the Norwegian immigration debate isn't with the Progress Party but rather with the Labor Party. He's clear of what he thinks of Martin Kolberg's Islam proposal.  "It's not radical Islam which is dangerous, but radical Islamism," says the Liberal politician.  "And it's not women's oppression that is the problem in radical Islamism, it's terrorism," says Raja.

He also rebuked Health minister Bjarne Håkon Hanssen (Labor) for the debate on the 24 year limit for marrying and the proposal to forbid cousin marriage.  "It's a breeding ground for parallel societies when you create laws which are different for people of different ethnic backgrounds," says Raja.

Sources: Dagbladet 1, 2; VG; Aftenposten (Norwegian) with many thanks to R.

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* Norway: Force kids to go to kindergarten
* Norway: Proposal to offer only halal food in prisons
* Oslo: Rapes are the fault of Norwegian girls
* Norway: Labor declares war against radical Islam

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