Boine supports harassed Sami woman

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Mari Boine, one of Norway’s most respected musicians, went on national TV this week to speak out against an ugly incident of harassment against a fellow Sami woman in Trondheim over the weekend. Such discrimination must not be tolerated, Boine told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on its nightly TV newscast Dagsrevy.

Mari Boine performing at last year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

The incident outside a bar in Trondheim generated wide media coverage and ended with 23-year-old Eli Anne Nystad filing police charges against her tormenters. They physically assaulted her and tried to set fire to her coat, and the racist attack was taped by surveillance cameras.

It sparked strong reaction nationwide, with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg also condemning it and reminding Norwegians that such harassment based on ethnic background is illegal. The leader of the justice committee in Parliament, the national Anti-Racism Center and the Sami Parliament also denounced the harassment.

It’s the latest in a string of what some Sami say are mounting incidents of harassment and discrimination, also in northern areas where the indigenous Sami are often a majority. Boine said she’s heard of more incidents as well lately, but thinks younger Sami are more likely to report them than older Sami.

State stipend winner
Boine, meanwhile, could add another major award to her long list of honours that includes being royally decorated by King Harald V. Norway’s new Minister of Culture Hadia Tajik announced that Boine was among three Norwegian artists to be awarded a state stipend, which means she’ll receive annual income of NOK 416,600 until she reaches Norway’s official retirement age of 67.

Boine, age 56, said the stipend means she doesn’t have to worry about where the next paycheck will come from and it may allow her to take a sabbatical year. “Maybe I can sink my shoulders a bit,” Boine told NRK.

Boine, who sung at the royal wedding of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit but also is known to perform at small private events including a recent Sami funeral in Oslo, is highly popular and draws large crowds, also at the Opera House in Oslo where she’s recently had top billing.

Tajik said Boine has put both Sami culture and Norway on the world map. Also winning state stipends this year were Peter Normann Waage, author of several books on cultural history and political topics, and Morten Jostad, also an author and actor who’s also been active in amateur theater for many years.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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