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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Government reacts to Koran school abuse

Reports that several Somalian-Norwegian children have been sent by their families to strict Koran schools back in Somalia, where they suffered physical abuse, have prompted government ministers to threaten to withdraw the children’s passports. Then their parents wouldn’t be able to send them out of the country.

Immigration and Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug was not at all happy to hear that some Somalian-Norwegian children have been sent by their parents to Koran schools in Somalia, where they suffered physical abuse. Her justice ministry and six others are planning ways of heading off such abuse. PHOTO: Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) ran a series of reports last week about how some Somalian immigrant parents felt their children had become too “western” and non-religious. They thus sent their children to an authoritarian school to study the Koran.

The children, many of them teenagers, have indepently of one another reported that they were often beaten had their ankles chained together and even hung by their ankles and wrists for minor infractions. One boy claimed he’d been beaten with a stick until he passed out.

Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug called a meeting of no less than seven of her colleagues, both other government ministers and state secretaries, to tackle the problem. “I can’t understand how parents could do this to their children,” Listhaug told NRK, but when they do, the government claimed it’s prepared to help the underage victims of violence and abuse far from home.

Health Minister Bent Høie took part in the meeting and stressed how important it was to listen to the experiences of the children when they return to Norway. “We’ll be asking our authorities with long experience in the field to meet the youth that have returned,” Høie said. “We need to hear their stories and use it to help prevent this from happening again.”

Listhaug said that if there’s reason to believe that a family is planning “to take their child out of school in Norway and send them out of the country to Koran schools like this, then we must evaluate the possibility of withdrawing the children’s passports.” She also said that authorities can decide not to issue passports to children who may be subjected to such treatment abroad.

The minister urged vulnerable youth who fear they may be sent abroad to contact authorities themselves, either at their schools, local health stations, the child welfare agency Barnevernet, welfare agency NAV or the police. The government can also suspend child support payments paid to the families, such as kontantstøtte and barnetrygd. Berglund



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