Mosques hit by threats, harassment

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Several mosques in Norway have been threatened in recent weeks and the local Islamic Council (Islamsk Råd) fears a new wave of hate and harassment. The threats have materialized both at the mosques themselves and over the Internet.

Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that last Wednesday, a mosque in Oslo received an e-mail claiming that all mosques in Norway would be burned down by the end of the year. In the early morning hours of Friday, a banner portraying a pork sausage was hoisted in front of a mosque in Fredrikstad.

Last weekend, the head of a pig was thrown at an another mosque in Oslo. Mosques around the country have also been plagued by vandalism and tagging, with a mosque in the southern coastal city of Larvik the target of someone throwing pork meat at it.

“It’s distasteful and disgusting that folks will stoop to such methods,” Mehtab Afsar, secretary general of the Islamic Council in Norway told Dagsavisen. “It’s sad that some people have so little respect for others’ house of god that they actually threaten to burn them down.”

Afsar blamed “islam-phobia” and intolerant attitudes “that we’ve been warning about for a long time.” He also worries that the rhetoric of some politicians and formulations of some journalists can make it easier for the man on the street to express prejudice.

He said that every threat “must be taken seriously, especially at places where children and adults gather.” He also thinks police reports should be filed, noting that they haven’t always been before.

“It’s important that these incidents be registered,”Afsar told Dagsavisen. “If not, they won’t land in the statistics and you risk not being believed.”

Police responded to an inquiry from the paper with a text message saying that all threats lodged against the mosques are under investigation, but no suspects had been charged as yet.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund