Norway: 'This is Norway'

Norway: 'This is Norway'

Last week I reported about an attack on a gay couple who walked down the street in Oslo holding hands. The attacker claimed the area was 'Muslim' and that gays shouldn't hold hands there. He was not the only Muslim interviewed in the press who thought so.

Following are interviews with several Muslims who disagree.


Mehmet Øzmen doesn't think it's a problem that two men go hand in hand in the streets of Norway.

He responds with disbelief when he reads the case of the two lovers Anders Rasmaushaugen and Michael Eimstad who were attacked by a Muslim man Sunday, August 9th, when they held hands in the Grønland district in Oslo.

Øzmen has been living in Norway for over 20 years and is originally from Turkey.

"What's the problem? They love each other. It should be allowed to show that you love another human being. God created all human beings and you can't prevent people from doing what they want," says Øzmen.

He's reading Turkish newspapers in the Turkish restaurant Sofra on Pedersgata. There are several restaurants run by Muslims on Pedersgata. The Storhaug district is Stavanger's most multicultural district. But nobody Aftenbladet spoke with thought it was wrong for two homosexual men to openly show their love.

On the contrary, most felt provoked by the attack and the responses were sharp.

"Norway is a free country. You should respect other people and not interfere in the lives of others," says Øzmen.

Lawa Sherif, Mohsen Sarfarazi and Aram Ali Mohammed are at the hairdresser's and they all agree on one thing: "Grønland is not a Muslim district. This is Norway and everybody should respect Norwegian laws and the Norwegian way of life," they say.

Lawa Sherif from Kurdistan-Iraq says that in many Muslim countries it's very common to see men holding hands.

"In Norway it's seen as a sexual expression, but in Kurdistan, it's rather common for men who are just friends to go hand in hand," he says.

Salah Doski who runs Nora Import, formerly Kenan Import on Pedersgata, thinks it's ridiculous to call a Norwegian district 'Muslim'.

"Gay men often go on Pedersgata. Some of them shop in my shop. I don't think it's something to respond to," Doski told Stavanger Aftenblad.

Abid Raja, a Muslim political candidate for the Liberal Party, says as follows: Such Muslims make me sick! As a Muslim I'm ashamed of such things. And the attack is an example of the value conflict that we must be clear about. There should be zero tolerance for attacks against both gays and immigrants.

Sources: Dagbladet, Aftenbladet (Norwegian)

See also: Oslo: 'This is a Muslim district'

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