Religious intolerance will be measured in Norway under a new government-funded scheme. The Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities (HL – senteret) in Oslo will canvas Norwegian attitudes towards Jews, Muslims and other groups.
The Council of Europe has asked for an account of anti-Semitism in Norway as the country has been criticised, especially by the Israeli media, for unfairly promoting the Palestinian cause. While attitudes towards Muslims have been measured twice before in Norway, feelings towards Jews have never been assessed.
Speaking to Aftenposten newspaper on Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), minister for children, equality and social inclusion Tora Aasland said, “The Centre will get NOK 3 million (USD 530,000) to carry out the study.”
She added that the scheme will “give us more information about people’s attitudes, with particular reference to Jews and Judaism, but also including Muslims and Roma people. We need a thorough survey of high quality, to form the basis for future political initiatives.”
Director of the Holocaust Centre, Odd-Bjorn Fure, said, “We have had a certain number of occurrences of a problematic nature. We have to ask whether they stem from a groundswell of anti-Jewish sentiment or if they are more random.”
He mentioned anti-Semitic happenings in Norway, including reports of the bullying of Jewish school children, shots fired at an Oslo synagogue and an invitation for Holocaust-denier David Irving to speak at a literary festival. Articles in the Norwegian press have however pointed out that the country is often viewed as anti-Semitic simply because it criticises Israeli politics.