‘Christian schools OK, not Muslim schools’

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Norway’s conservative Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) wants to make it easier to establish private schools in the country, but not those that would appeal to Muslim students. “It must be allowed to consider the need for integration when screening applications,” Frp’s spokesman on education issues, Tord Lien, told newspaper Aftenposten this week.

Establishment of new Muslim schools, he claimed, could “further weaken integration” of Muslims into Norwegian society. Current law in Norway allows for establishment of private schools based on religious belief, but Frp doesn’t want to see Muslim elementary schools established as they’ve been in, for example, neighbouring Sweden.

“In Oslo, where applications (for Muslim schools) have come in, there are challenges with integration already,” Lien told Aftenposten. “If you’re going to integrate into Norwegian society, it’s an advantage to go to school with Norwegian children.” The party thus places the burden of integration on the immigrant, with less responsibility on Norwegians to accommodate immigrants.

Asked to explain why Christians and Muslims should be treated differently, in terms of their ability to operate religiously based schools, he claimed that since private Christian schools have existed in Norway for 100 years, “it’s difficult to see how they can hinder integration.”  He said his party could re-evaluate its position when integration has “come further” than he thinks it has today.

newsinenglish.no staff