Locals react to embassy’s crime warning

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A warning about recent violent assaults in Oslo that was sent out this week by the US Embassy to resident American citizens hasn’t been particularly well-received by local Norwegians. Several claim the embassy has over-reacted, and that crime in Oslo is no worse than in most American cities and towns.

The US Embassy is located across the street from the Royal Palace and its surrounding park, and just down the street from the scene of the tram stabbings. PHOTO: Views and News

The warning, called a “Personal Safety Reminder,” was sent via e-mail to US citizens who have registered with the embassy in Oslo. It noted how Norwegian media have reported “a number of violent assaults in the Oslo area in the past several months,” including the “daytime knife attack on a tram” and other recent stabbings, including two near Oslo Central Station.

The embassy did not specifically mention a recent wave of robberies, rapes and other sexual assaults in Oslo, but in a message unlikely to cheer promoters of tourism in the capital, the embassy noted that parks in Oslo “can be especially dangerous, even Slottsparken (The Palace Park) across from the US Embassy, which has been the site of multiple assaults.”

The embassy “wants to remind all US citizens to exercise basic safety precautions, even in a generally safe country like Norway, as you would in other locations.” It went on to advise against walking alone at night, to remain in well-lit areas with heavy traffic, to be “aware of your surroundings at all times” and “trust your instincts,” and to “keep your cell phone with you and charged, to call for help if necessary.”

The warning was picked up by local media, and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) carried out some random interviews on the streets of Oslo. Several of those said on national radio Wednesday morning that they thought the warning was “exaggerated,” even though Norwegian officials and local police have been issuing plenty of warnings of their own.

“What’s happened in Oslo are things we can’t guard against anywhere,” said one woman. Added another: “I can’t imagine it’s any more dangerous in Oslo than in the USA.”

One American was given some air time on a later broadcast, and said she thought the warnings were well-intentioned. “You can say a lot about the advice, but I think the embassy was just showing some concern for Americans in Norway,” said Lisa Cooper, who spoke in Norwegian, has lived in Norway for many years and been active in various work and social issues.

“That is actually unusual, but very sweet,” Cooper told NRK.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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