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Cablegate: Norway has Terrorists? The Rising Tide Of

VZCZCXRO1671
PP RUEHAST
DE RUEHNY #1189/01 2701023
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271023Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY OSLO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4649
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 0435
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 1311
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 0016

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OSLO 001189

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/EX, EUR/NB, INR, S/CT, DS/IP/EUR, DS/ITA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC KISL PREL PGOV SOCI IS PK NO
SUBJECT: NORWAY HAS TERRORISTS? THE RISING TIDE OF
ANTI-SEMITISM AND EXTREMISM IN NORWAY

REF: A. OSLO 1172
B. OSLO 1141
C. OSLO 1047

OSLO 00001189 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Anti-Semitism and Muslim extremism appear
to be on the rise in Norway. On 22 September authorities
charged four men for terrorism in the wake of an attack on
the main synagogue in Oslo and related threats to the Israeli
and American embassies. Two of the suspects are of Pakistani
descent, echoing a growth of extremism in the Pakistani
population residing in Norway. This extremism is apparent not
only in a rash of anti-Semitic acts, but also in public
debate where the image of Israel and the US are warped by
misinformation. END SUMMARY.

ANTI-SEMITISM, OR ANTI-ISRAELISM?

2. (U) On Sunday 17 September, multiple shots were fired at
the Mosaic Religious Community synagogue in Oslo. See ref A
for details. Four men in their twenties were arrested on
Tuesday 19 September, including two men of Pakistani origin,
one of Turkish decent and one who is ethnic Norwegian. One
was recorded as stating that the way to solve problems in the
Middle East was to slit the Israeli Ambassador's throat.

3. (SBU) The Islamic Council in Norway has been publicly
supportive of the Jewish community in the wake of the
shooting, sending sympathetic messages through the mail (and
the press) stating that 'we are all minorities and should
stand together.' One imam, Nehmat Ali Bokhabi, also visited
the synagogue in a televised news report. Nevertheless, this
same imam was quoted the previous week blaming the US for
bringing terrorism upon itself. During the Lebanon crisis in
the summer, denunciations of Israeli policies from many imams
were extreme. Elements of the Muslim community are clearly
hostile towards Israel and Jews. Oslo's synagogue was also
the suspected target of an attack foiled by recent arrests in
Italy and several newspaper articles stated that Norwegian
Muslims were to take part in this attack.

4. (SBU) Newspapers this summer were dominated by public
debate on anti-Semitism in the wake of the conflict in
Lebanon (reftel B), and there was one known battery of a
Jewish person that led community leaders to suggest that
their members not wear religious symbols in public. There
were several protests by Muslim groups in front of the US and
Israeli Embassies. The Mosaic synagogue was vandalized
earlier this year on several occasions.

5. (SBU) The escalating extremism and anti-Semitism may be
more acceptable due to the increasing anti-Israeli tone that
has appeared in mainstream politics and press, which is a
sharp departure from the very pro-Israeli stance that was the
norm just ten years ago. Jostein Gaarder, one of Norway's
most famous authors and writer of the best-selling book
Sophie,s World wrote an anti-Semitic article in the summer
of 2006 that garnered international condemnation. The
resulting debate made it clear that a significant number of
Norwegian commentators support his views. This was followed
by a recent poll, which showed that Norwegians were the most
anti-Israeli of any European nation during the military
action in Lebanon. Another poll showed that more Norwegians
blamed Israel than Hezbollah for starting the recent war in
Lebanon, a view the Foreign Minister called 'wrong.'
Norwegian student groups and city councils have called for a
boycott of Israel (as did the Finance Minister before later
recanting.) On 25 September the Israeli Ambassador in Norway
criticized the Norwegian Royal family for not supporting the
Jewish population during its time of need in the wake of the
synagogue shooting. After criticism from both the Foreign
Minister and the press, the Israeli Ambassador apologized.

EXTREMISM AND MISINFORMATION

6. (U) The synagogue attack comes on the heels of
declarations by two leading imams in Norway that 9/11 was
directed by the USG against itself and that Al Qaeda does not
exist (reftel A). The imams involved were from the Pakistani
community, which numbers about 30,000 and dominates the
public discussion on Islam and integration despite the fact
that there are several other large Muslim populations in
Norway including Iraqis (20,000) Iranians (14,000) and Turks
(14,000) who remain largely silent. Other Imams criticized
their colleagues for the timing and tone of their comments,
but indicated sympathy for the conspiracy theories
themselves. The Pakistani community in Norway has its roots

OSLO 00001189 002.2 OF 002


in the Kharian district of Pakistan, and many continue to
send their children to that area for their elementary
education, compounding the difficulties of integration. Gang
members from the Pakistani community are very visible and
wealthy, and have been involved in acts of violence over the
years that continue to hurt the public image of Pakistanis in
Norway. The most recent event was a startling daytime
shoot-out in the popular port area of Aker Brygge this
summer, where several gang members were wounded. Any hope
that gang violence would stay in the shadows of the immigrant
neighborhoods was shattered.

7. (SBU) Immigrants make up a quarter of the population in
Oslo, with an unregistered unemployment rate of 44 percent.
In several areas of town the immigrant community lives is
what can only be called ghettos, despite the public welfare
system's generous funding. Of the three non-ethnically
Norwegian suspects in the synagogue shooting, two were
unemployed. The Pakistani population is in many respects the
most established in Norway with 40 years of history in this
country, but very few pursue education beyond the age of 15,
and many continue to maintain close ties and even homes in
Pakistan. Arranged or forced marriages with partners from
Pakistan are still common, leading for calls to establish a
higher minimum legal marrying age. Only two Muslims have ever
been elected to the Norwegian Parliament, both women. This
combination leads to a sense of disenfranchisement in the
Pakistani-Norwegian community that is exacerbated by the
public extremism of several leading imams and a lack of
successful role models in Norwegian society. Additionally,
the access to information is limited at times by educational
background and linguistic ability, resulting in a
proliferation of misinformation. In a recent article by a
well-known Norwegian commentator of Pakistani origin, he
defended the imam's statements that Al Qaeda does not exist
on the grounds of free speech, but seemed most delighted that
the imam was able to express himself so well in Norwegian.

GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE

8. (U) The Norwegian government has not been entirely
passive. In response to the shooting, the Prime Minister and
Justice Minister visited the synagogue. Earlier, the Minister
of Labor and Social Inclusion, Bjarne Haakon Hanssen (who is
responsible for integration issues) was both quick to condemn
conspiracy theories from local imams (inter alia saying that
would hurt employment chances for Muslims), and was the first
Minister to visit the Pakistani area from which come many
Pakistani-Norwegians. He is publicly critical of forced
marriages and decisions to send students to Pakistan for
their education and expressed surprise at the amount of money
that had been funneled into building homes in Pakistan from
Norwegian-Pakistanis who were ostensibly committed to their
adopted land. In recent years, the GON has dedicated
significant resources to provide language training for
incoming immigrants, and has tried to work with immigrant and
second-generation youth to minimize inner-city violence.
Nevertheless, official voices condemning extremist views are
few.

9. (SBU) COMMENT: The shooting and threat of terrorism, which
can be blamed in part on Norway's failure to successfully
integrate its Muslim population, increases our concerns about
anti-Semitism and extremism in Norway. Norway remains a very
homogenous society, especially outside of Oslo, and the gang
violence and religious intolerance is difficult for the
Norwegian community to accept as a legacy of immigration.
Extremist views in the Muslim community are more visible than
before, after exploding onto the scene earlier this year in
the cartoon protest. This combination of extremism and
anti-Semitism is a surprise to many Norwegian authorities and
with very few exceptions they seem uncertain how to combat it
in public. Norway is justifiably proud of its reputation as a
country for free speech, but this seems to hamper their
ability to respond vigorously against radical views. END
COMMENT.
WHITNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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