Norway: Demonstrations planned for Friday, calls for calm among Muslims

Norway: Demonstrations planned for Friday, calls for calm among Muslims

Update: The Jawa Report reports Jihadi forum chatter on the subject.


Various people say here that the PST story was a 'non-issue'. That's what I thought last week, but that was certainly not the way it was portrayed by some Muslims back then..

Also, 'advising not' to do something is not the same as 'not advising' to do it.

For more on this story:
See here for more on this story:
* Oslo: 1000 taxi drivers protest Muhammed cartoon
* Oslo: Taxi drivers continue Muhammed-cartoon protest
* Norway: Imam disappointed by Dagbladet meeting
* Norway: Former terror-suspect organizing Muhammed cartoon protest


Dagbladet's publication last week of a cartoon showing the prophet Muhammed as a pig has caused strong reactions among Norwegian Muslims. Aftenposten columnist Usman Rana now urges calm among Muslim brothers and sisters.

On Facebook and by SMS there are now several demonstrations planned in the coming days, but the former head of the Muslim Student Society think Norwegian Muslims have nothing to win by escalating the situation.

"If young Muslims choose to participate in the demonstrations, it's my strong recommendation that it takes place in a very civilized manner, and that people show loyalty to Norwegian symbols and the Norwegian flag - because this is also the homeland of Norwegian Muslims. People should also ensure that rioting elements don't take advantage of the situation," Usman Rana told VG Nett.

"Norwegian Muslims should rather show their dissatisfaction by doing good and by showing a positive side as peace-loving, civilised and decent people who benefit society. That is what the Koran and the prophet Muhammed also say that people should do: Namely to counter evil with good," the young Muslim told VG Nett.

He calls on young Norwegian Muslims not to let themselves be led by people who have neither theological integrity nor deserve to be role-models for young Muslims and who express extreme attitudes on the Internet.

"There are several who now wish to whip up the atmosphere on all sides. My strong recommendation is that young Muslims should be careful of being part of this evil spiral," continues Usman Ranan.

He adds that Muslims should deal with this situation calmly, in step with the teachings of the prophet Muhammed and without contributing to the polarization we got during the cartoon conflict in 2006.

The man behind and deputy of the Islamic Union (Det islamske forbundet), Basim Ghozlan, says it's important to express one's opinion and to engage in society, but that it's important that everybody you do is for a good cause and for a better society for all.

"I won't call for demonstrations, because we now see that certain forces that are getting involved, are not interested in Islam's teachings. We are also sceptical that these will now take control," Ghozlan told VG Nett.

"It's important that Muslims in Norway understand that a few people are trying to provoke reactions which in turn cause confrontation and mutual mistrust. These events most often lead to international reactions which also expose Norwegian interest abroad," Norwegian-Pakistani social researcher Atilla A. Iftikhar told VG Nett

He fears the news about Dagbladet's cartoon publishing will soon explode in Pakistani papers.

"I sincerely hope that these new illustrations which were published in Dagbladet were not circulated in Muslim countries, such as Pakistan," he told VG Nett.

"Norway is already under pressure here in Pakistan due to the republishing of the cartoon in Aftenposten. A new round of a cartoon controversy in Norway will put Norwegian interests in an even worse light," says Iftikhar and characterizes the development as tragic.

He says that Dagbladet's publication of the cartoon where the prophet Muhammed is portrayed as a pig, as so far only been described in Pakistani blogs.

"Fortunately it hasn't gotten any mention so far in the major media, or gotten an official Pakistani response. Let us hope that it stays that way and that things die down in Norway, so that the matter won't be blow up by the media here. If not, it won't take many days before the issue spreads to the newspapers," Iftikhar told VG Nett.

Usman Rana thinks people should ask themselves if the Muhammed cartoon which was published in Dagbladet last week was particualry deliberate and relevant for the news story.

"It wasn't PST who had linked to the illustration, but some individuals who had linked to it on the Facebook site. PST also removed it when they became aware of it. There fore this was a non-issue, and Dagbladet has made stone soup, not that I wish to control what Dagbladet publishes," thinks Rana.

Atilla A. Iftikhar also doesn't think that the links on the PST site were a big issue.

"What makes the matter serious is that Dagbladet, by publishing the illustration, throw oil on the fire. It's reprehensible that the Norwegian media let themselves be abused and do not realize that there publications are seen as part of the battle against Islam and Muslims. I think Dagbladet's editor, at the least, in the meeting with the imam should have recognized that the publication was unnecessary," thinks Iftikhar.


The Islamic Council of Norway is advising Muslims not to participate in the cartoon demonstrations on Friday.

"It is our opinion that the current demonstration can easily be exploited by rioting elements for their own aims, and therefore it won't be best for neither Muslims or society at large. Under the circumstances we can therefore not recommend participation, even in legal demonstrations," the Islamic Council of Norway writes in a press release.

They urge those who still want to participate to act in the best possible way, and not to contribute to bringing shame to the prophet and Islam.

The Council thinks that there are far better way to participate in the debate, by writing letters and participating in dialog meetings.

"We think that a demonstration at the present time is not advisable," General Secretary Shoaib Sultan told

The youth group at the Islamic Union also warn against participating in the announced cartoon demonstration. They don't want any connection to the organizers who are in the police spotlight.

"We urge our youth not to participate in the demonstrations Friday," Djamel Selaihi, deputy leader of the youth group, which represents about 1,000 Muslim youth, told

He says he's afraid that there might be trouble and rioting like what happened in the Gaza demonstrations just over a year ago.

"We do not want to have a connection to those who are arranging the demonstration since several of them are in the police spotlight and have extreme attitudes. And such a demonstration just leads to reinforcing a negative impression of Islam and Muslims by people. We will not have a connection to such things," the youth leaders told

Selaiki says he was involved in organizing the demonstrations in Oslo in connection to the protests against the war in Gaza, and saw how wrong it went.

Selaihi adds that he thinks it was idiotic of Dagbladet to publish the Muhammed cartoon, but that dialog is a much better response.

"We made direct contacts with those to whom it applies. We are also planning a dialog meeting next week with representatives from Dagbladet, PST and imams," says Selaihi.

Police are warning young Muslims not to participate in the demonstration, which was also called by Arfan Bhatti on Facebook.

"I'm concerned for the role Bhatti is playing," chief of staff for the Oslo police Johan Fredriksen told

Bhatti is one of several who are administration the group which is trying to mobilize people to the demonstration in front of the Norwegian parliament at 3pm, Friday.

"I play no role. What I am, and am not, has no significance, it's my Muslim identity which is upset," Arfan Bhatti told the paper.


The Oslo city council might revoke taxi licenses after the Muslim protest.

"It will be a sad situation for the whole city," says alderman for trade Øystein Sjøtveit (Frp).

Sjøtveit is responding to the demonstration by Muslim taxi drivers in Oslo, who parked their cars in protest of the publication of the Muhammed cartoons.

"What I will have to do if there will be more such demonstration, is to consider revoking the permits of those who participate in the illegal demonstrations."

Q: How many are we talking about?

A: Yes, we will count how many these are. That I can't say, but I have heard the number one thousand. You can imagine that if we revoke one thousand permit, it will be a sad situation for the whole city," Sjøtveit told TV 2 Nyhetene.

On Monday morning taxi drivers took a three hour break from driving passengers.

"You must understand that this is an insult of our prophet. We don't accept that. We are for freedom of speech, but there is a limit in insulting our prophet and religion," says Ghazi, who drives a taxi in Oslo.

The drivers themselves don't call it a demonstration, but a long break during work. Train passengers who needed to continue on from the Oslo Central Station were especially affected by the demonstration.

"Think if we take the buses, trams and subway. We could paralyze the whole country if the Muslims strike," says Ghazi.


The parliamentary head of the Centre Party, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, attacked Dagbladet from the speaker's podium in parliament today.

"I am of course principally for freedom of speech, but all freedom should be used prudently. I'm uncertain of the wisdom of Dagbaldet when they chose to print the disrespectful Muhammed illustration," Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said during the interpellation debate on freedom of speech in parliament today.

"It was an extra contribution here to raising the temperature. We don't need that now, we need all participants to moderate themselves and see that nobody operates in a vacuum. It is illustrated fully by that it's exactly a former terrorism suspect who has been Dagbladet's ally. I think that Norwegian youth deserve better than to be exploited in such a game," The parliamentary head of the Centre Party said from the speaker's podium in parliament.

After the debate, Slagsvold Vedum told Dagbladet that he thinks the newspaper's basis for the news was extremely thin.

"There's a remote link to an illustration from the PST site on Facebook and Dagbladet lets itself be used by Bhatti and by forces who don't want dialog. Bhatti, in any case, has not emerged as one who wants a calm dialog, so I think Dagbladet let itself by used by extreme forces.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre was in parliament for the interpellation from Dagfinn Høybråten (KrF) to the Foreign Affairs Minister on the status of freedom of speech internationally. Støre emphasizes that it's the editor's right and responsibility to decide what the newspaper will publish.

Støre told Dagbladet however that what the editor said afterwards shows that people weren't fully aware about the history of the printed drawing. The drawing is the same one which Russian-Jewish immigrant Tatiana Susskind hung in several places in the Palestinian city of Hebron in 1997. Susskind was imprisoned and the illustration was used as justification for both riots and suicide attacks.

"This case illustrates at people should thoroughly think through what they print, before they putting it in print."

Støre was visited yesterday afternoon at his office by two representatives of the Islamic Council, who expressed unease about the situation. He says that he also got inquiries from other counties if this is Norwegian policy.

"We must repeat what we had said earlier, that we can't be associated with this expression. In Norway it's the editors who decided what should be in the papers."

"I reject the conclusions of both Slagsvold Vedum and Støre, both when it comes to Dagbladet's editorial work and in connection to this concrete illustration's meaning," says acting chief editor Lars Helle.

He says that the story from Hebron is controversial and doubt that it's the drawing's history which has caused the reactions to the printing. The chief editor isn't only critical of the statements: "The Foreign Minister has a principle, good attitude to freedom of speech and editorial responsibility, which other politicians can well be inspired by."


Yesterday evening the site was shut down when several Turkish IP addresses loaded the front page about 5,000 times within a short period.

The incident occurred at 7:30pm and the site was down for two and half hours. So far, Dagbladet hasn't been able to clarify who was behind the attack.

Several Turkish news sites write that the Turkish hacket group1923TURK has taken responsibility for the attack.

"We did the attack because Dagbladet doesn't respect our values, our history and the prophet Muhammed," the hackers told Turkish newspaper Beyazgazete News, which depicts a pig covered by the Norwegian flag. [see here]

1923TURK had formerly attacked the Pentagon.

"Dagbladet's attack against our prophet is disrespectful, Norwegians have no respect for anything. Therefore we attack the paper," the hackers told the radical Turkish news site Internethaber News.

Acting chief editor Lars Helle says Dagbladet will continue to work to discover who's behind the attack.

"Even if Turkish hackers take responsibility, it's not a given that they're really behind it. If what they say is correct, it's a terrible violation of publishing rights that any media should have," says Helle.

He thinks the Turkish hackers have a completely untenable position on freedom of speech.

"It will be obvious for us to report the position when we are certain who's behind it," says Helle. was subjected for a so-called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS).

"The attack came from about 20 IP-addresses from Turkey," says Tor Kristian Flage, technical coordinator at

The IP addresses were traced back to a broadband service provider in Turkey.

"It wasn't very many IP addresses but they had good broadband. They generated more traffic than what our servers were configured for," says Flage.

When the attack started yesterday evening, Basefarm, which operates's servers, had to configure the systems to black traffic manually.

"In cooperation with Basefarm we will introduce measures to prevent future DDOS-attack from causing serious consequences.," says Flage.

Various Norwegian websites were also subjected to DDOS at irregular intervals, according to the National Security Authority (NSM).

"We experienced several attacks against public and political sites," says Pål Arne Hoff, who is responsible for Norcerts' sensor system.

Norcert is a division of NSM which is responsible for handling and preventing serious data attacks against society-critical infrastructure in Norway.

"It happened relatively recently, and it happened in the course of 2010," says Hoff, who did not want to further comment on the attack.

"Such attacks occur continuously on the net, and it's becoming a quite common form of demonstration," he says.

Sources: VG, NRK, TV 2 Nyhetene; Dagbladet 1, 2 (Norwegian)

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