Police were bracing for both a protest march against Islam in downtown Oslo on Saturday and a counter-protest march against racism at the same time. Police called on participants to remain calm and resist provocation.
One march was being organized by the anti-Islam Norwegian Defense League and SIOE Norge (Stop Islamisation of Europe’s Norwegian chapter), which claim Norway and other countries are facing civil war over Muslim immigration. Previous demonstrations held by the groups have attracted only a handful of people. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that this one has been promoted outside Norway, with leaders of the English Defence League and other anti-Islamic groups expected to attend.
Some experts said the march, aimed to wind through the capital’s Grønland district, where many Muslim immigrants shop and reside, could resemble anti-Jewish demonstrations by neo-Nazis elsewhere in Europe but may reach more people because of attempts to spread fear.
The other march was being organized by a local center against racism (Antirasistisk Senter), and would run from downtown also through Grønland, where it was due to end in what arrangers called a multi-cultural festival.
Police would be standing by. “We’re calling on everyone to show common sense and remain calm,” Johan Fredriksen of the Oslo Police told NRK.