Quilliam co-Director Ed Husain was in Oslo, Norway between 21st and 23rd March 2009.
In response to rising tensions and media debate in Norway about Islam and Muslims, Ed Husain spoke at Oslo’s Literature House to several hundred Norwegians about how best to avoid the emergence of extremism. For three full days, Quilliam’s outlook was on the national media.
In addition to public speaking commitments, Ed was interviewed by all of Norway’s broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. He also did several television interviews.
At meetings with Norway’s Crown Prince and the foreign secretary, as well as Oslo’s media class, Ed spoke about how:
1. Norwegian society must urgently change its attitude (political, legal and cultural) towards ‘second generation’ immigrants. They are not immigrants, but children of Norway’s soil and therefore full Norwegians. Norwegian national thinking needs updating on race, identity and immigration.
2. As Norway moves away from labelling people born and raised in Norway as ‘immigrants’, universal values of human rights must be respected by minority communities. Liberal democracy, based on a secular public space, is not for negotiation. In that spirit, Norwegian Muslims have a duty to preserve secularism and wider society ought to teach Norway’s history and bring minorities into the political process as citizens and individuals, not as groups.
3. Muslims have a duty to move away from ethnic ghettoes and question why Norway’s media is focusing on the recent public burning of the Hijab. Ed condemned the burning of the Hijab as extreme and asked Muslims to be introspective. Why has a head cloth become the most important issue for Muslims in Norway? And why are children as young as 3 wearing a headscarf?