No mention of 'morality police' in the mosque, despite outcry

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Public debate continues over reports of some Muslims’ efforts to impose their own codes of conduct on others in Oslo, and imams in local mosques were asked by the leader of Norway’s Islamic Council to take up the issue in Friday prayers. None did, however, claiming they didn’t want to cause any offense.

Incidents of harassment by what some local Muslims have likened to a ‘morality police’ in Oslo’s Grønland district were reported by newspaper Aftenposten last weekend. The reports prompted more Muslims and non-Muslims to come forward, telling tales of how they’ve also been verbally abused and harassed by total strangers on the streets of Grønland, for their failure to abide by strict Muslim standards for dress or behaviour.

One man, actor Sahid Ali, said he’d even received death threats from fellow Muslims who don’t approve of his portrayal of Pakistanis on Norwegian TV or his comedy routines. He said he’s had personal experience with the Oslo’s self-appointed “Muslim morality police,” which tries to impose social control on others, since he was 14 years old but contends it’s become far more aggressive in recent years.Stories like Ali’s led to public condemnation of the harassment by politicians and other community leaders, and among those reacting was the leader of Norway’s Islamic Council, Senaid Kobilica. “It is completely unacceptable that some Muslims behave like morality police,” he told Aftenposten . He urged the imam at all of Oslo’s mosques to bring up the issue during Friday prayers.

None did, according to reports by Aftenposten over the weekend. One imam at the Central Jamaat-e-Ahl-e mosque in Grønland, Ali Shah, said he wasn’t aware of a “morality police” and was seldom out on the streets himself. He didn’t find it necessary to bring up the issue. When reminded he’d been asked to do so by the Islamic Council, he said he would “next Friday.”

Another imam, Mehboob-ur-Rehman, opted for an indirect approach to the issue, to avoid offense. He said his address in urdu to hundreds gathered for Friday prayers called “for everyone to respect one another … and that we must not criticize one another unnecessarily.”

Representatives of the Islamic Cultural Center and the Islamic Council were due to join local politicians and community leaders for a public debate on the issue Monday at 6pm at the Intercultural Museum (IKM), Tøyenbekken 5.