Over the course of the last years, Norway has developed an international reputation as a staunch supporter of several organizations despised by the international community. This is a result of adhering to the supposition that the best way to counteract terrorism is to enter into a ”dialog”. However there is every reason to question our mild-mannered conversations and generous monetary gifts to Islamists that promote religious ideologies that, among other goals, aim to eradicate minorities in the Middle East.
According to the September 19th edition of the International Herald Tribune, the former president of Egypt, the secular-moderate Hosni Mubarak warned that the alternative to an authoritarian system would release radical religious forces and result in chaos (“Not the old Middle East”, Ian Bremmer, p8). He was correct, at least from Egypt’s minority’s point of view. The Arab spring has become an Arab winter. According to, among others, the September 24th issue of Time Magazine (Flash point, Bobby Gosh, p.18-24), the region is far more unstable since Islamists have assumed power in one nation after another. Conditions for human rights have worsened, and democracy fairs poorly as well.
The belief that the introduction of democracy would automatically solve ethnic, religious and social challenges has in reality legitimized support of intolerant extremists, whose goal is to use democracy itself to abolish democracy. Unfortunately such disposable democracies flourish in Africa, where the first free election is often the last. Even so, Norway presumed that Islamists would become secular when they assumed power.
Already one month after Tahrir Square revolution, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr-Støre expressed a definitive analysis in the New York Times. To Gahr-Støre, it was essential to actively counter any perception that the rebellion could promote Islamist views, views that might lead to a new Iran 1979 or provide fertile soil for Al-Qaeda. The article stands as a symbol of Norwegian naiveté and as a momento mori over politicians more concerned with ideological control over the description of reality than dealing with actual reality.
What we see now is a significant increase in attacks on minorities throughout the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands of Coptic Christians have fled Egypt. In addition, Druzes, Sufis, Assyrian Christians (who lived in Iraq for 2000 years), Kurds, Turkmens, homosexuals bearing the brunt of the presumably auspicious Arab Spring. In Iraq alone, nearly a thousand homosexuals have been killed since 2004, according to the September 13th edition of The Observer. It is worth noting that homosexuality was not criminalized under Saddam Hussein. Large number of Jews, another minority that has lived in the Middle East for several thousand years, have emigrated from Arabian countries. Today it is estimated that there are only 18,000 Jews left in these countries, and absolutely no Jews in Libya, according to Standwithus. (also read)
And finally, what of the Christians in Syria? I recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, where I gave several lectures, had an audience with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, and had discussions with several diplomats, ambassadors and leading professors. I also visited the Golan Heights and spoke with one of the top leaders of Christians in Syria. This conversation provided an unpleasant confirmation. Tens of thousands of Christians flee in the wake of Islamic rebel armies supported by the West. These rebels assume control of cities and villages proclaiming “Christians are not welcome in new Syria.” Rebels go from door to door killing people, because they are Christian. Inhabitants of the region are preparing for yet more carnage. Many millions of people in Syria belong to minorities. Should the present regime fail, where the President himself is Alawite, an Islamic minority, the danger for genocide is imminent.
A quick glance at, for example, the bylaws of Hamas reveals a litany of non-liberal, anti-democratic and minority-hostile ways of thinking: outright genocide of the Jewish minority is encouraged and civilians are urged to commit suicide for the sake of Allah. Sharia law must be introduced in all countries that Muslims have conquered, and every suggestion from the international community for peaceful solutions should be rejected. Secular solutions are not acceptable and it is the duty of all other religions to bend to this decree without opposition. (also see Hamas Charter)
Thus Norway’s present official policy acts as an ideal cooperative partner for Hamas. Little or no protest is expressed from our flank. Hamas and other groups hostile towards humanity have successfully obtained political supporters in the West while they persecute minorities at home. We attempt to influence extremists from within, but we are silent about known facts: innocent people are being killed. And our silence acts as consent.
Norway’s foreign policy is a checkbook diplomacy. Over the last years, Norway’s uncritical financial contributions have amounted to billions. We were the first Western country to invite Hamas in from the cold, and we have consistently refused to follow USA’s, the EU’s and the UN’s condemnations of this organization. Delegates from Hamas regularly visit Oslo to partake in festive dinners and receive “democratic training”. All for an organization that has definitively stated that they will never agree to peaceful solutions from the secular international community. Gahr-Støre has scurried from Islamic group to Islamic group, relishing secret conversations with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. These conversations Gahr-Støre later denied on TV2 (April 12) and was forced to admit to when being confronted by facts by the journalist. The number of friends Norway’s money has managed to buy is impressive indeed.
We are in bed with the enemy, and proud of it. Here hatred of Jews and anti-Israelism stroll hand in hand while studies show ever increasing anti-Semitism. The use of photographs in the last conflict between Israel and Gaza illustrate unilaterally biased media coverage. Nearly all the photographs show wounded in Gaza. There are few photographs from Israel, of people killed and wounded, of heavily damaged houses. Thus far, this year Hamas has fired over 2200 rockets into Israel (also see wikipedia report). We see no photographs of the many “spies” that Hamas summarily executes without trial.1 Influencing Western journalists and photographers is, according to the November 19th edition of The Wall Street Journal, a conscious public relations strategy on behalf of Hamas, accomplished by the placement of military infra-structure below and in proximity to the civil population. Hamas is internationally recognized for using the civil population as shields by locating militant jihadists and weapon-stores in densely populated areas. Of course, Israel is then perceived as “evil”, and this is exactly what Hamas and others want to achieve – the demonization of Israel, the Middle East’s only liberal democracy that offers Christians and Muslims equal rights and religious freedom, and the only country where religious minorities are increasing according to the Jewish Virtual Library.2 In nations like Norway, biased media coverage leads to hate, as exemplified by the recent statement of a Hamar AUF politician, who wished that Hitler could return and continue the Holocaust.
Norway’s international reputation as a trustworthy and fair-minded peace negotiator in the Middle East has unfortunately lapsed into history. The Oslo Accords of 1993 represented one of the few really great events that established Norway on the international map. During the Oslo Accords, Norway played a leading role in guiding the negotiations towards a two-state solution. The agreement states specifically that the two parties together will agree on borders and the division of land areas. No other country is referred to in the agreement, not even the USA. But only a few years later, the Oslo Accords were impatiently tossed aside with its promises and commitments abandoned. Palestinians were encouraged to sidestep the agreement and, based on the boundaries that existed prior to 1967, apply directly to the UN for observer status. An interesting fact is that, Norway was selected to negotiate the Oslo Accords in place of a more probable actor – Sweden. However, Israel reacted to Sweden’s pro-Palestinian bias by denying Sweden a place at the table before the negotiations even began.
Today, Norway has forfeited any role as a credible peace negotiator by judging Israel and Islamists according to two different scales. We have silently accepted that Islamists persecute Christians, Jews and homosexuals. This is a disturbing fact.
1. Et unntak under den siste Israel-Gaza krigen var svenske Expressen, 21.11.2012, «Dødat av sina egna»
2. Fact Sheet number 59:Chrristians in the Palestinian Authority, Jewish Virtual Library, 30.05.2008
Hanne Nabintu Herland is a Norwegian historian of comparative religions and bestselling author. Her website: www.hannenabintuherland.com. This article first appeared in Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten.