Norway: Pakistanis grapple with questions of identity

Norway: Pakistanis grapple with questions of identity


For the first time since 9/11, about 4,800,000 Norwegians were threatened by a possible Al Qaeda terror plot . In a country generally associated with the Nobel Prize ceremony, the 160,000 Muslim population – which includes 30,000 Pakistanis – are now questioning their identity.

This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog -


Deputy speaker of the Norwegian Parliament, Akhtar Chauhdry, is a Pakistani immigrant who has made a name for himself in Norway. He is of the view that the Muslims in Norway, particularly more and more Pakistanis, are leaning towards religion which could be why their views have changed.

Even though there has been some talk of making an Islamic Emirate of Norway among some of the more radical fringe of Muslims in the country, the representatives from the Muslim community want more rights for Muslims in Norway.

One such individual is a second-generation Pakistani medical student, Bushra Ishaque who told DawnNews that efforts were being made to fight for the rights of Muslims. Ishaque said, “We want to be identified as Muslim, without explaining our identity, without the label of ‘terrorist.’”

In response to a question as to who has imposed the identity of terrorist on Muslims, Ishaque said, “This is due to circumstances such as the war on terrorism, 9/11, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, Palestine conflict, Iraq, how ethnic Norwegian see Muslims. They don’t care about your skin color. But if you’re a Muslim, that’s your identity. [To be honest] that scares people. A survey taken of the Norwegian attitude towards Islam showed that Norwegians are more afraid of a Muslim majority in Norway than they are about the current climate crisis.”

However, not everyone thinks like that. Maimoona Khan is a journalist and author who told DawnNews that immigrant Muslim communities were relying on more organisations which have religion as their common ground.”

Khan stated that although she was a religious person, religion is a personal affair. “I don’t have to defend my religion because I feel that is something between me and my God. I feel that identity is linked with a lot of things [and not just religion]. I have an ethnic background of which I’m very proud, I’m also proud of being Muslim [and at the same time], I’m living in Norway and this is the society I’m part of,” said Khan.

Khan also said all Norwegians are not Islamophobic. “I feel that it’s very important that we understand the fear on both sides, it’s not just us who are afraid of being stigmatised. It’s also the Norwegians who are afraid of losing their values. It might be irrational, but there is a fear. I mean we have to try to put ourselves in their shoes and try to understand why they are afraid.”

A member of the Norwegian parliament and a Pakistani, Hadia Tajik, stated that unfortunately there were some elements in society who wanted more space for themselves.

“They call themselves as Muslims but they have a very fundamentalist view of Islam and of our traditions. I think that generally, Norwegian Pakistanis do not share this view,” Tajik told DawnNews.


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