UPDATED: Organizers of a demonstration against immigration of Muslims to Norway claimed they were satisfied with the turnout, when around 150 people took part in the march this week from Oslo’s City Hall. Several times that many turned up for other demonstrations in support of tolerance and freedom of expression.
Police reported there were no clashes between two of the demonstrations that took part simultaneously on Monday evening. One of the anti-Muslim demonstrators, however, harassed a TV2 reporter of Pakistani descent live on the channel’s national nightly newscast. Viewers all over the country could watch how a young, white Norwegian man made offensive noises, blew smoke at veteran journalist Kadafi Zaman and then hurled racist remarks at him, saying he took part in the demonstration “to show my disgust for Muslim devils like you, such immigrant (expletive deleted) like you.” Zaman, who was born and reared in Norway and opted to simply continue his TV2 report without challenging his tormenter, later received an outpouring of sympathy and support from viewers shocked by the racist verbal attack.
The march in Oslo against Muslim immigration was mounted as part of the so-called Pegida movement in Europe, which opposes what its followers consider to be undue influence of Islam on western countries. Local Pegida organizer Max Hermansen told reporters he plans to march every Monday evening. “We want to say that ‘we are the people,’ and we demand to be part of the debate (about) Muslim immigration and the influence of the totalitarian ideology of Islam,” claims the Pegida group’s website.
While Hermansen and fellow participants marched with Norwegian flags, several hundred others took part in a “solidarity march against hate and stigmatizing.” They included Ervin Kohn, a longtime leader in the Jewish community, and people representing various religions and political persuasions.
“Many will use the murders in Paris to whip up hatred against Muslims,” said Bjørnar Moxnes of the Reds Party in a speech in front of Parliament. He claimed that “we are also ‘the people,’ and so are our friends and neighbours whether they are Muslims, Jews, Christians or atheists.”