A broad spectrum of Muslims in Norway are denouncing young radical Mohyeldeen Mohammad as an “idiot,” saying he in no way represents their views. Politicians on both the left and right praised the Muslims’ own criticism of Mohammad, who left Norway on Sunday.
Norwegian newspapers and newscasts were full over the weekend of reports that various Muslims were stepping forward and distancing themselves from the radical views espoused by Mohammad, who grabbed public attention when he spoke at a demonstration in Oslo a week ago.
He provoked both Muslims and non-Muslims alike when he told a crowd of around 3,000 persons in Oslo that Norway could experience its own terrorist attack, not unlike September 11 or the London bombings.
A few days later he told newspaper Klassekampen that he supported the executions by stoning of homosexuals in Somalia, and then he told two journalists from newspaper Dagbladet that they were in danger of being shot. Police in his hometown of Larvik arrested him late last week, after he was charged with making death threats, but he was later released.
Mohammad’s remarks have sparked anger within the Muslim community in Norway, and in Larvik, Muslims planned a new demonstration, against him.
“Mohammad from Larvik is a big idiot who managed to ruin everything (at the earlier demonstration) and turn the issues upside down,” Asma Asghar told newspaper Aftenposten. He thinks it’s terribly unfair that the “extreme” views of one radical Muslim can hurt all Norwegian Muslims.
Samia Tahira, another young Muslim from Oslo’s Stovner district, agreed, saying that she doesn’t understand why Mohammad lives in Norway if he really is so opposed to democracy and local values. “I think it’s sick that someone like him can threaten the country I live in,” she said.
Norway’s Islamic Council said the demonstration on February 12 was a “wake-up call” for all Muslims in Norway, and council leaders apologized for not taking a more active role in the protests against publication of caricatures depicting the prophet Mohammed.
Several spokesmen for the Muslim community in Norway said they think future imams should be educated in the west and that Muslims in Norway should help develop more moderate forms of Islam. One young Muslim woman, student leader Bushra Ishaq, said she’d been harassed by Mohyeldeen Mohammad, while leading Muslim politician Abid Q Raja said he’d been frozen out of Mohammad’s Facebook group when he challenged Mohammad’s radical views.
“It’s not enough to simply condemn views like his,” Raja told newspaper Dagsavisen. “You have to directly challenge him, hit him with questions about his interpretation of Islam. When I wrote that he had gone astray from the prophet’s teachings, which really are about peace, he blocked out my comments! He didn’t want to answer my questions. It was embarrassing for him.”
Newspaper VG reported that Mohammad left Norway on Sunday, flying back to Saudi Arabia where he is studying sharia law at university in Medina. He refused to clarify any of his statements (including one on his Facebook page where he wrote that “execution is my way to martyrdom”) telling VG he works “only for Allah.”
Some Muslims have said they think Mohammad has been “brainwashed.” Mohammad is only 24 years old, born in the UK to parents from Iraq, and came to Norway as a child. It’s unclear why he turned radical and embraced sharia laws a few years ago.
Siv Jensen, head of the Progress Party which long has warned of radical Islamic views, said she was glad to see so many Muslims speaking out against Mohammad. She claimed his views “have nothing to do with religion. This is a radical ideology that abuses and distorts a religion, to conduct terror and oppression.”
Jensen told Aftenposten that views like Mohammad’s “need to be fought in the same way we fought communism and naziism.” She also thinks new immigrants to Norway should be required to adapt to Norwegian values and that it should become easier to revoke citizenship of those defying Norwegian laws and democracy.