Below is a follow-up newspaper article about the non-Western rape epidemic in Stavanger, once again translated by our Norwegian correspondent The Observer.
Stavanger Muslims, like Muslims in the United States after the Fort Hood massacre, feel that they are being unfairly stigmatized by the actions of a tiny minority of their co-religionists — who just happen to commit the vast majority of rapes in Stavanger and other Norwegian cities.
Angry at Aftenbladet and the police
On Wednesday evening a meeting hall in the International House in Stavanger was crammed full of immigrants. The room practically simmered with anger and frustration over the rapes that had taken place in the city lately, and most of the anger was directed towards Aftenbladet and the police.
The meeting hall was simply too small when Stavanger SV [Stavanger Socialist Party] invited people to a dialogue meeting to discuss the sexual assaults and taxi-rapes that have occurred in the city recently.
Several of the attendees had to stand outside in the corridor or squeeze together in the door opening to listen to a parliamentary politician from SV, Akhtar Chaudhry, present a stern message to the immigrant community in the city.
“There is no excuse for rape; you don’t have to be a Muslim to understand that,” Chaudhry told the audience.
The majority of the attendees were immigrant males, and several of them expressed frustration over the rapes and the media coverage that these had generated.
“As a Muslim I was very angry at the media coverage. It was unacceptable. People now believe that all Muslim men are rapists. It was a big mistake for Stavanger Aftenbladet to publish this article. The newspaper should have contacted the Muslim community prior to publishing this article,” the local representative of Stavanger Labour Party, Mubarak Ali, told the audience. He was referring to Aftenbladet‘s article about non-Western males being responsible for the majority of the sexual assaults in the city.
Rakeem Hatinoor, who has lived in Stavanger for ten years, said that the mood between the Norwegians and the immigrants in the city has changed.
“When I arrived in the city there was a good relationship between Norwegians and immigrants, unlike in many other Norwegian cities where this relationship was pretty strained. But the mood changed after this article was published. We need to learn from the past and not end up in a situation where immigrants remain isolated in their own ghettos,” Hatinoor told the crowd.
“It is horrible to stigmatize an entire ethnic group. The police have only managed to cause tensions between the various ethnic groups in the city,” someone from the audience said.
“In their article Aftenbladet was guilty of generalizing, and they managed to drive Muslims into a corner,” another one said.
Throwing away his taxi permit
Several of the people at the meeting wanted to talk to Aftenbladet afterwards to express their disappointment with the newspaper. One of the men, Mahood, told the representative from Aftenbladet that he would tear up his taxi permit.
“I can’t continue to drive a taxi and be told that I’m a rapist.”
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Taxi owner Amir Saleem Sheik felt that men and women had an equal responsibility to stop the rapes. He condemned the rapes, but said that the Norwegian society was moving in the wrong direction.
“Girls as young as 16 have offered me condoms and suggested that we should have a good time together. Grandmothers have their handbags full of sex toys and ask me if I want to come along to a strip tease. Where are the ethics and the moral in this society? Is this Las Vegas or what?”
But Akhtar Chaudhry, the parliamentary politician from SV, said that it was Saleem Sheik who was going in the wrong direction.
“This can never be a debate about sex and morals. This is a question of respecting the laws of the country, and ensuring that women are able to feel safe at all times.”
Chaudhry had no sympathy for those who wanted to turn Aftenbladet into a scapegoat.
“You feel stigmatized, but what have you done? I haven’t read one single letter to the editor or a newspaper comment from you, nor have I seen any of you trying to set up a meeting to discuss the issue. The press has a job to do. One of the most powerful women in the country (Gerd Liv Valla) wrote a book about how poorly she was treated by the media, but did it help? If you’re not happy you should contact the media and use it to your advantage,” Chaudhry said.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.