Right-wing extremists who call themselves “national socialists” have become more active in the southern parts of Norway than elsewhere in the country. Researchers say the neo-Nazi movement in Norway remains small, but it’s mobilizing.
Uniformed members of the national socialist group Den nordiske motstandsbevegelsen (Nordic Resistance Movement), for example, were highly visible during last weekend’s gay pride parade in Kristiansand. This year’s pride festival in Sørlandet (Southern Norway) had already been plagued by vandalism, with organizers’ rainbow pride flags ripped down from flagpoles, while banners calling for “homo-lobby” to be “crushed” were hung up along major roads.
Homosexuals ‘among the enemies’
When the parade began on Saturday, members of the national socialist group posted themselves along the route and took photos of those marching. That led to confrontations, with many marchers feeling threatened and wondering how the photos would be used.
“They’re only doing this to scare folks,” Adrian Sandøy, one of the marchers, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Police were standing by, but opted against taking any direct action. “It’s not illegal to stand there and talk and take photos in a public place,” police officer Pål Christensen told NRK.
Jacob Ravndal, a researcher at the defense department’s research institute who also works with a research center on extremism (C-REX) at the University of Oslo, called the Nordic Resistance Movement “a national socialist military right-wing extremist group where homosexuals are among the enemies.” He told NRK that its members adhere to “traditional neo-Naziism” and that it’s “one of the few groups that openly presents itself as national socialists with racial theories as part of their ideology.”
Not ‘stereotypical skinheads’
Haakon Forwald, a spokesman for the group, has earlier told NRK that the group prefers being called “national socialists” instead of “neo-Nazis,” even though their ideology is inspired by Naziism.
“When ordinary people hear the word ‘nazi,’ they think of stereotypical skinheads with a decadent lifestyle and impulsive use of violence,” Forwald told NRK. “We distance ourselves from that.”
Ravndal said activity among such national socialist groups has risen in recent weeks and months. “They can’t compare themselves with sister organizations in Sweden and Finland, and have hardly carried out any public displays in Norway,” Ravndal told NRK, “but we’ve seen activity in recent weeks that indicates they’re mobilizing.”
He thinks leaders of the Nordic Resistance Movement in Sweden view the Norwegian members as having “matured” and become ready for action. “The organization has a strong hierarchy,” Ravndal said. “You can’t just become a member, and they carefully plan their public demonstrations. We know that the division in the south has been more active than the other four in Norway.”
Ravndal was unsure of exactly who the members are, “but we know they consist of everyone from folks who drop out of school and worklife to highly educated people with good jobs.” He cautioned that they can resort to violence, noting that a pride parade in Finland was attacked with tear gas.