Norwegian People come together to stand with Muslims following hate crime

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SHAFAQNA – Muslim community in Norway have received an outpouring of support from the public after an anti-Islam rally turned violent in the Norwegian town of Kristiansand when its leader attempted to set fire to a copy of the Holy Quran despite warnings from police officials.

The incident took place on November 16 when a small group of people from the little known far-right extremist group ‘Stop Islamisation of Norway’ (SIAN) held a demonstration in Kristiansand, during which they attempted to burn a copy of the holy book.

The Mayor of Kristiansand has condemned the incident and has expressed compassion for the city’s Muslim community.

“Kristiansand is a city for everyone, and we work systematically to create diversity. Such acts are provocative and regrettable,” Mayor Harald Furre told Norway’s national broadcaster NRK in an interview.

After the incident of burning the holy Quran in Norway, Muslim came out of the streets and started recitation of the holy Quran.

During Friday prayers, a group of people from Kristiansand showed up outside the mosque to express their support and compassion for the local Muslim community. They did not let the challenging weather conditions, the heavy rains, and freezing temperatures deter them from letting their fellow Norwegians know that Muslims have the local community’s full support. They were holding placards inscribed with slogans that said “Together, even if we are different”.

Talal Omar, a senior leader of the Muslim Union in Kristiansand, said a huge number of people who have shown their support for the area’s Muslim community include politicians, Christian leaders, and ordinary citizens, who have contacted the local Muslim population to show that all Norwegians stand with them.

“SIAN does not represent Norway. These people are very few in number here, and overall, Norwegian Christians and others are with us,” Omar said.

Leader of the Muslim Union in Kristiansand, Akmal Ali, says his group will take right-wing leader Arne Tumyr to court after he created a scene during the Nov 16 demonstration and attempted to desecrate the holy book at the pretext of an anti-Islam demonstration.

“It was a hate crime that Tumyr has committed. He verbally attacked Muslims and violated police instructions,” Ali said.

Videos from the incident that surfaced on social media showed Qusay Rashed, a Palestinian Muslim youth settled in Norway, jumping over a fence and kicking Lars Thorsen, the SIAN leader who was burning a copy of the holy book. Police then intervened and took Thorsen as well as Rashed into custody.

Earlier this year, Thorsen was also handed a 30 day suspended jail sentence and was fined with 20,000 kroner (Rs 339,396) by a district court in Oslo for violating Section 185 of the Criminal Code, which deals with discriminatory and hateful expression. He was found distributing SIAN pamphlets in Oslo on July 20, 2018, that had targeted Muslims, Dawn reported.

Iran, Pakistan summon Norwegian envoy over insulting move

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Norwegian charge d’affaires in Tehran in the absence of that country’s ambassador.

While asking the Norwegian charge d’affaires convey Iran’s protest to his government of the abhorrent practice in Norway, the Iranian foreign ministry warned against the serious consequences of such measures concerning the spread of extremism and violence.

The head of the Department for Northern Europe in Iran’s Foreign Ministry, referring to Muslims sentiments around the world in the face of the derogatory act addressed the Norwegian diplomat and pointed out that it is impossible to insult the beliefs of over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world under the pretext of freedom of expression.

He urged the Norwegian government to prevent the repetition of such seditious acts and to deal with its perpetrators.

The Norwegian diplomat promised to convey Iran’s protest to his respective government, adding that the Norwegian government completely rejects this action and our main policy is to support freedom of expression and belief and to prevent hatred and the Norwegian government is committed to protect the security of Muslims living in the country and prevent extremist and divisive actions, IRNA told.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry also says it has summoned Norway’s ambassador to convey the deep concern of the government and Pakistani people over the recent attempt to burn the Quran by a Norwegian man caught on video.

The Foreign Minister’s statement says “Pakistan’s condemnation of this action was reiterated. It was underscored that such actions hurt the sentiments of 1.3 billion Muslims around the world, including those in Pakistan. Furthermore, such actions could not be justified in the name of freedom of expression”, according to gulfnews.

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