Norway: Who are the morality police?

Norway: Who are the morality police?

Following an expose by Aftenposten on the 'morality police' in the Grønland district of Oslo, journalists swooped down to interview the residents and find out what's going on. 


They ensure that people, especially women, act modestly.  and they address strangers on the street aggressively.  The morality police, who run internal controls in Grønland, has been talked about a lot lately.  But who are they really? Nobody Aftenposten has spoken to acknowledges they belong to this "professional group".  On the other hand, many gladly point to other nationalities and groups.

In the Dar Entreprises shop in Tøyengata, owner Inam Dar and customer Arfan Mahmood are in agreement.

"I don't think Pakistani men are doing things like that.  We live in Norway and must follow the culture here," says Mahmood.

"But men from Somalia might overdo things.  They are very engaged with the hijab on girls."

The many people Aftenposten has spoken with who themselves had experiences with the morality police draw a picture of a multiple-headed troll.  Identifying everybody from old, frustrated men to newly arrived asylum seekers.

Professor of sociology Grete Brochmann is glad the problem is being discussed and thinks it's essential now to know who we're really talking about.

Brochmann says that we're assuming a few things, but that in order to deal with this, we must know more than who's said to be part of this by people on the street.  She says there's a big difference between a phenomenon which will simply die out on its own, and one which is constantly being replenished by asylum seekers and marriage immigrants.

Brochmann says that in order to find political solutions we need to know.  She calls on Equality Minister Audun Lysbakken (SV) to commission a thorough study which which will go beyond just Grønland.  Similarly to many, she thinks the problem is more extensive.

She gets an immediate response.  Lysbakken's state secretary, Henriette Westrin (SV), says they completely agree that data is needed.  They will first check if a study can be done within the existing research programs.  "If not, we will help to ensure it can be implemented," she says.

In the Somali restaurant Karma, the customers don't need research to comment on the morality police.  Mohamed Sheik, who knows the Somali community well, is afraid of what he says is an increasing number of religious fanatics. He suggests that the following three groups make up the core of controllers: young drop-outs who go to 'basement mosques', older people who resist progress and want to maintain control and some highly educated conservative leaders with great power.

"Many people don't see that these extremists who terrorize others, not the majority society, is our greatest threat," he says.

At the next table, Imale Kulmiye Hassan says that he has seen Somali men spit at Somali girls wearing jeans.  The men are 25 years old and up, and haven't been long in Norway.

His sister and her girlfriends often get ugly looks, sarcastic comments, and are spitted on.  Because they wear jeans, and don't have a hijab.

A day earlier he himself was assaulted at a restaurant in Grønland.  When he wanted to pay, the waiter leaned forward and grabbed the silver necklace around his neck, jerking it aggressively, as if he wanted to tear it.  "Why do you have such things?  Are you gay?"

Hassan was shocked by the treatment.

"But it's not the first time friends and I are rebuked because we enjoy ourselves at a restaurant instead of going to the mosque."

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

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