Anti-Islam protest sees low turnout in Norway

A demonstration of the far-right Norwegian Defence League last week in Stavanger saw a turnout of only around 20-30 people, while an counter anti-racist protest nearby attracted around 800 supporters. Speakers at the NDL meet included the organisation’s Martin Olsen, as well as Merete Hodne from Stop the Islamisation of Norway (SIAN), both of whom were questioned as part of the trial of confessed mass killer Ander Behring Breivik.

The anti-racist organisation SOS Racism attracted 800 supporters to its rally by the cathedral.

Despite the low turnout at the NDL event, the area around the Petroleum Museum was cordoned off, and reports indicate that there were over 100 police officers stationed around the city in case of trouble. The Stavanger Aftenblad newspaper also claims that officers were drafted in from the rest of Rogland and western Norway, and that some businesses in Stavanger were asked to delay their summer holidays in case violence erupted.

Talking about the two conflicting protests, police inspector Fredrik Martin Soma admitted that, “There were more [officers] than usual to ensure these could be carried out in a safe way.” He, however, declined to say exactly how many personnel were posted to the city.

In total, only five people were arrested at both demonstrations.