Norway: 100 convert to Islam in 2009

Norway: 100 convert to Islam in 2009

More than 100 Norwegians converted to Islam this year. The Catholic church is also seeing a similar demand from people seeking a new faith.

Yusuf Estes, a Muslim speaker from the US was in Norway for a visit this past June. After his speech at Oslo University College, five Norwegians converted to Islam.

They did this by reading the Muslim creed in front of hundreds of students.

There are no official statistics on how many convert to Islam. But TV2 received data from most central mosques and Muslims organizations across the country. Just this year, more than 100 Norwegians became Muslim.

Most conversions took place at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Grønland, Oslo. Maulana Mehboob ur-Rehman is the imam who converted 14 people this year.

"Those who convert must read the creed where they sincerely say that they believe there's only one God and that Mohammed is his prophet. This is all that is needed to convert. The practical duties like prayer and alms will come eventually," the imam told TV2.

Fahad Qureshi is the head of the Islamnet organization. They arranged the speech at Oslo University College where five Norwegian converted to Islam.

Now he stands every other week at Karl Johan street and gives out informational material on Islam.

"We don't stand there to convert or sneak-Islamisize. We just want to correct the impression of Islam by saying the truth. At Karl Johan there are many who come over to us. Some are hostile and think we have nothing to do here. But other are seeking and wish to learn and read about Islam. We give them free informational material and DVDs," says Qureshi.

In late March he's arranging Scandinavia's first Islamic peace conference in Oslo.

"The idea of this conference is to build a bridge between Islam and other religions. And people who don't believe. We wish to present Islam for what it is, and not as the religion is portrayed in the media. The aim is to clear up misunderstandings about a peaceful religion," says Qureshi.

But it's not just Islam which is experiencing demand from seeking Norwegian. The Catholic Church has also gotten about 100 new converts in 2009.

In contrast to Islam, a sentence is not enough to convert. Pål Bratbak says that one must go to Sunday Mass, the most central of Catholic Church practices, learn for about a year's time and then write a letter to the bishop asking to be accepted into the Catholic Church.

Source: TV2 Nyhetene (Norwegian)

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