“We need to stop denigrating Islam.”
Norway’s Progress Party used to be a real alternative to the MultiCulti mainstream parties in Norway. But all that has changed now: FrP, like so many other parties, finds itself in urgent need of the Muslim vote.
Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer has translated an article about FrP’s Strange New Respect for immigrants. The translator includes this note:
It seems that power is more important these days than proper policies.
The FrP has really gone downhill after Carl I. Hagen decided to step down as party chairman. The only real political party in Norway for immigration opponents now is Demokratene, but this is a fringe party that is unable to gain any substantial support.
It looks like Norway is doomed.
The translated article from Aftenposten:
Progress Party hoping to win the immigrant vote
According to FrP (The Progress Party) chairman, Siv Jensen, there simply aren’t any valid reasons for immigrants not to vote for the party. Yesterday at the annual conference of the Oslo FrP, she was encouraged by members of the youth party to change her rhetoric in order to attract more voters from the immigrant communities.
“We need to stop denigrating Islam,” leader of the youth party of the Oslo FrP, Christer Kjølstad said during a debate over which strategy to use in the lead up to the next general election in 2013.
“There are many immigrants out there who would have voted for us, but have decided not to because we denigrate their religion,” Kjølstad said. He stressed the importance of distinguishing between religion and culture.
Another representative from the youth party, Siri Ulleberg, continued along the same lines:
“I was exposed to immigrant cultures in the area where I grew up in Oslo east. I suggest that we organize courses for FrP members in which we teach them the differences between religion and culture. Islam in itself is not dangerous; only extreme Islam is.”
Trond Hjelmerud from the Southern Nordstrand chapter talked about his own suburb where 98 percent of elementary school students are immigrants.
“We have no major problems, but our policy on immigration has been unpalatable for many of our new compatriots. We need to start talking to them instead of just talking about them. Many immigrants tell us. ‘Your only goal is to throw us out of the country. You don’t want us here.’”
Party leader Siv Jensen also talked about immigrants’ misconceptions about the party. She said that immigrants were constantly told that the Labor Party wished them well, and that the FrP only wished them harm. At the same time she warned against increased immigration, referring to the recent wave of murders in Malmö and the massive integration challenges that the city is facing.
“We need to have a temporary moratorium on immigration in Oslo. We need time to integrate those who are already here. We need to get this situation under control.”
“So your message is that the FrP must work harder in order to secure the immigrant vote?”
“Yes, that is correct. I am very clear that we need to have a strict asylum and immigration policy, and that those who stay here illegally must leave. But at the same time we need to get better at integrating those who live here legally, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t vote for the FrP. Many of them are shopkeepers and self-employed, and they shouldn’t buy into the popular myth about the FrP.”
“Are you encouraging them to remove the ladder for new immigrants?”
“No, I’m talking about making the best out of the situation.”
Doesn’t take it to heart
Siv Jensen has previously been heavily criticized for referring to “stealth-Islamisation”. But she doesn’t take the criticism from the youth party to change her rhetoric towards Islam to heart.
“I have always been very clear about the difference between religion and culture in my speeches. I have never denigrated immigrants. What I have talked about is combating repressive and totalitarian forces,” she says.
After the party’s support was cut in half in the local elections last year, the retrospective examination went far beyond its rhetoric towards Islam. Re-elected leader, Christian Tybring-Gjedde referred to 2011 as an “annus horribilis”.
“Seven percent of the overall vote in Oslo is terrible and quite frankly embarrassing,” he said.
Party leader Siv Jensen also talked about attracting more female voters. She reminded the conference that the typical Progress Party voter is a businessman.
“Highly educated women of my own age find the FrP unappealing,” she said.