Two cases of expressing hatred have ended in convictions and even a jail term for the men involved. Norway is cracking down on the hatred generally carried out by white Norwegian men, on the grounds it’s not covered by the country’s constitutional freedom of expression.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported this week that a 60-year-old Norwegian man was sentenced to six months in jail for threatening and hateful expressions directed at, among others, survivors of another white supremacist’s massacre on the island of Utøya on July 22, 2011. The defendant, who was not identified, has a long record of harassment that has included sending feces, cigarette butts and garbage to people he doesn’t like.
He also has issued death threats online and sent both hateful and obscene messages to a long string of victims including Mani Hussaini, the former leader of the Labour Party’s youth organization AUF, and its current leader Ina Libak, who was shot several times on Utøya during the ultra right-wing terrorist attacks at AUF’s summer camp on Utøya.
“I’ll come back to get you eventually,” he wrote to Libak, calling her one of the “asylum lovers on Utøya.” He claimed the gunman on Utøya, a young white Norwegian, “did a great job.” In another letter to a victim he expressed support for US President Donald Trump, Progress Party politician Sylvi Listhaug, an anti-Islam organization in Norway and other harsh critics of immigration and aslyum.
Additional victims of his harassment have included the environmental organization Natur og Ungdom, Doctors Without Borders, the city library at Lambertseter in Oslo and the editor of newspaper Oppland Arbeiderblad. Hussaini, whose family arrived in Norway as refugees from Syria, told Aftenposten that he normally “overlooks comments like ‘money, pig and blackie,’ but those who hail the July 22 terrorist and write that they want to see me dead, hits hard.” He has since left politics and hopes the jail term issued to his harasser might serve as a preventative measure against hatred.
Three neo-Nazis: ‘We are back’
In another case last week, a court in Kristiandsand convicted three Norwegian neo-Nazis of expressing hatred when they hung up a swastika flag last year on the historic Arkivet building in Kristiansand on the night before April 9, the day Nazi Germany invaded Norway in 1940. Arkivet, built as part of the state archives, was taken over by the Gestapo in Kristiansand during the war. The Gestapo interrogated and tortured Norwegians there during World War II.
The building, which now houses a foundation dedicated to peace and human rights, was also tagged with the message Vi er tilbake (“We are back”).
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the three men also raised Nazi flags elsewhere in Kristiansand and filmed themselves during so. Police stopped them, seized their video camera and used its film as evidence in the court case.
Fines and confiscation
All three men have been active, key members of an organized neo-Nazi organization. They were identified as Tommy Olsen, age 41, Ronny Bårdsen, age 34, and Jan-Christopher Pedersen, age 37. Two of the men were ordered to pay NOK 12,000 (USD 1,330) in fines while the third was fined NOK 6,000. They were further ordered to turn in other Nazi flags, banners and stickers. They were liable for jail terms, but they were dropped because the police took too long to process their case.
Their defense attorney claimed the men were not guilty of a punishable offense, claiming it’s not a crime to support “parts of Hitler’s project.” The court, however, ruled that the circumstances around the flag-raisings amounted to a hate crime: “To promote a Nazi- and racist ideology on the evening of April 9 2018 at a place where people were subjected to violence and torture under the Second World War in the manner the defendants have done cannot be protected as freedom of expression…” the court wrote in its verdict.
Norway’s police intelligence PST and anti-terror unit have earlier reported that they have the right-wing extremist milieu in Southern Norway under surveillance.