Muslims met by threats in Finnmark

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Muslims arriving at mosques in Norway’s northern county of Finnmark this week were met by placards calling for “revolution” against Islam. The offensive notices promoting a right-wing extremist organization were also found on public buildings and schools in Alta and Sør-Varanger.

Extremism has reached the far northern area of Finnmark and the city of Alta, but police are addressing the problem. Pictured here: the city’s distinctive cathedral formed to resemble the Northern Lights. PHOTO: Alta kommune

“It wasn’t very nice,” the leader of the mosque in Alta, Ismail Omar, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “We don’t know what these people want, and we’re a large groups when gathered for Friday prayers. We are of course worried that something might happen.”

The notices appeared just days after a heavily armed ultra-right-wing extremist opened fire inside two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last Friday. Norwegian police have already boosted patrols around local mosques in an effort to make worshippers feel more secure.

Police in Finnmark said the notices pasted onto several buildings around Finnmark will be investigated as hate crime. “We’ve been concentrating on radicalization and violent extremism in the districts and have had special contacts in the Finnmark Police District since 2015,” Kjell Andreas Bjerke, who’s among the contacts, told NRK. That’s when an influx of asylum seekers crossed the border from Russia into Finnmark, while thousands of others arrived farther south in the country.

Bjerke added that police have specific methods for trying to control violent extremism, and try to seek out people with extreme attitudes before any violence occurs. Police will also be present during Friday prayers later this week.

Omar thanked the local police for their concern and protection. He thinks those who slapped the notices on the mosque’s door are acting alone and not part of any large organization in Norway that wants to harm Muslims.

“I think there are far more of us who want a better society,” he told NRK. “Those who do this sort of thing are just a small part of society. Police are accessible and willing to help, and that’s the most important.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund