Politician on leave after death threats

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Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a Member of Parliament for the conservative Progress Party, has been placed on leave after receiving death threats and warnings of severe bodily injury. The threats are linked to his political views questioning the merits of immigration.

Christian Tybring-Gjedde of the Progress Party is on sick leave after receiving death threats linked to his views on immigration. PHOTO: Fremskrittspartiet

Tybring-Gjedde has been among those accused of inflammatory rhetoric against immigration, not least in a column he wrote last year that questioned whether the emergence of a multi-cultural society in Norway was coming at the expense of Norwegian culture. When a Norwegian right-wing extremist, who once had been a member of the Progress Party, used the emergence of a multi-cultural society to justify his deadly terrorist attacks in July, both Tybring-Gjedde and his party were criticized for inciting such extremism. Party leader Siv Jensen later agreed that “a new form of debate” on immigration would emerge, but firmly denied the party should be tied in any way to the terrorist attacks themselves.

Some, however, have apparently continued to hold Tybring-Gjedde responsible and he’s been the subject of threats since the attacks were carried out on July 22. Both he and his family are now under police protection, with guards outside their house and occasional police escorts.

“It’s a terrible situation to be afraid all the time,” Tybring-Gjedde’s wife Ingvil told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). She and her husband feel they’ve been unfairly subject to harsh characterizations by officials of both the Labour Party and its youth organization AUF, which was the main target of the terrorist on July 22. Just days after they spoke disparagingly of the Progress Party at a recent conference, came a newspaper commentary in which Tybring-Gjedde was lumped together with other right-wing extremists as “søppelmennesker” (literally, garbage-people, or skumbags). That’s when Tybring-Gjedde went on sick leave, suffering from stress and memory loss.

The threats against Tybring-Gjedde have come during a time when general Norwegian attitudes towards immigration have become more positive. His wife issued a plea that those skeptical towards immigration must still be allowed to speak without fear of threats, and she called on the media to refrain from personal characterizations. Tybring-Gjedde himself also thinks Norwegian politicians must be allowed to express their views without being threatened.

He’s by no means the only Norwegian politician to receive threats, though. Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservative Party, also had police protection after being threatened during expulsion efforts against Mullah Krekar. Former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik received threats from a convict from Tanzania, and Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen received death threats earlier this year as well.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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