‘Norwegian-Pakistanis misunderstood’

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It’s been 50 years since the first “foreign workers” from Pakistan landed at Oslo’s former airport at Fornebu. Two generations later, descendant Assad Nasir thinks most Norwegians still don’t know enough about their mostly well-integrated countrymen so he’s written a book to help them out.

His book, entitled Kunsten å være pakkis (loosely translated, “The Art of Being Pakistani”), aims to shatter stereotypes that Nasir thinks flourish among Norwegians. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that he doesn’t delve deeply into controversial themes but concentrates on the positive aspects of Pakistani immigration, while jokingly noting that not all Norwegian-Pakistanis are or aspire to be doctors, lawyers and engineers at their parents’ urging.

Nasir told Aftenposten he’s especially glad that there’s little discussion about “the Pakistani milieu” now. “It’s become so diverse that folks don’t even refer to Norwegian-Pakistanis as one group any longer,” he said. “No one can speak for everyone anymore, just like no one in Norway can speak on behalf of all Muslims, all Christians or all athiests.”

Nasir, age 32, is a school teacher himself, at a local high school in Norwegian and social studies. He claims his students had actually asked him why he was driving a Toyota instead of a BMW or Mercedes “‘like other Pakistanis.’ That’s when I understood there was a need for this book.”

Norwegian-Pakistanis now make up only the ninth-largest immigrant group in Norway behind residents from Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Somalia, Germany, Iraq, Syria and the Philippines. They still make up the largest group of Norwegians born with immigrant parents. Around 19,000 Norwegian residents were born in Pakistan. Another 16,700 have parents who are born in Pakistan, according to state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway).

newsinenglish.no staff

  • Roy Everson

    Yes, In a xenophobic society historically unaccustomed to immigrant groups. Here in America we still need to learn how the Irish in the 1840s were perceived as a bunch of drunks.

    • richard albert

      That is because we were. But we were as hard-working as we were hard-drinking. The Scots and Irish came from a land where dangers were many and pleasures were few. Little has changed.

      “Men with the thirst stayed in the back ready to streak out the door the minute the priest said, Ite, missa est, Go, you are dismissed. They stayed in the back because their mouths were dry and they felt too humble to be up there with the sober ones. I stayed near the door so that I could hear the men whispering about the slow Mass. They went to Mass because it’s a mortal sin if you don’t though you’d wonder if it wasn’t a worse sin to be joking to the man next to you that if this priest didn’t hurry up you’d expire of the thirst on the spot.”

      McCourt, Frank. Tis: A Memoir (The Frank McCourt Memoirs) (p. 15). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

    • Rudi

      Do you mean culturally homogenous ?

  • Rudi

    Perhaps the “explanation” demands an audience rather than the audience demanding an “explanation”.