Two leading members of Norway’s most conservative political party in Parliament, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), have offered a 10-point plan for immigrant parents to boost their family’s integration into Norwegian society. The plan immediately sparked some angry reaction.
Per-Willy Amundsen, a Member of Parliament and Frp’s spokesman on immigration issues, and Christian Tybring-Gjedde, another MP and leader of Frp in Oslo, concede that some of their tips may be “difficult and uncomfortable” for parents. They claim, though, that following them will, in the long term, be of “invaluable help” to their children.
“The parents’ generation must be willing to sacrifice cultural or religious practice that undermines the values of freedom that make possible our society’s growth, affluence and welfare,” they wrote in a commentary in newspaper Aftenposten.
The two Progress Party politicians urged parents to speak Norwegian with their children at home, read Norwegian fairy tales and children’s stories to them, have their children watch Norwegian TV and listen to Norwegian radio, allow their children to spend the night at the homes of friends from school and attend birthday parties, and get involved in their children’s schools by meeting other parents and teachers.
The two politicians urged parents against sending their children to Koran school after their main school day and instead use the time for homework and play. Parents should take part in local activities for their children, such as sports teams or marching bands, and stop taking their children home on long holidays to the parents’ place of birth.
Finally, they urged parents to “stop importing spouses” for their children and allow their offspring to marry for love, and to “liberate your daughters. Don’t impose cultural or religious restrictions on them that limit their freedom.”
The 10 tips sparked immediate criticism from both ends of the political spectrum in Norway, including the Conservative Party, which lately has been seen as cooperating with Frp.
“These 10 tips segregate minority parents … as if they don’t know what’s right or wrong for their own children,” Afshan Rafiq of the Conservative Party told Aftenposten. “I’m a second-generation immigrant, and for me, much of this is a given already. I live and work here, speak Norwegian and read stories to my children. At home we speak both languages, and that’s how it is in most families.”
She added that she thinks the Frp politicians’ tips are hostile to foreigners. Amundsen and Tybring-Gjedde failed to address, meanwhile, whether parents from French-speaking countries should stop sending their children to the local French school in Oslo’s fashionable Frogner district, or whether American parents, for example, should stop sending their children to the International School in Bærum, where instruction is offered in English.
Hadia Tajik of the Labour Party agreed with Rafiq and was also offended by the Frp politicians’ tips, especially since they launched their commentary by referring to the recent suicide bombing in Stockholm. Tajik claimed that “everyone” will see that their approach was “so general and rough that no one will buy this.”