A Peaceful Protest with a Warning / News / The Foreigner

A Peaceful Protest with a Warning. At 15:00 this afternoon, more than 3000 demonstrators gathered at Universitetsplassen on Karl Johans Gate in protest of the recent publication of a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. Over the past 10 days anger has been mounting in response to Dagbladet’s decision to include a caricature of the Prophet in its coverage of the abusive content on Norway’s secret police service’s Facebook forum. Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste (PST) opened this forum last year with the intention of facilitating and encouraging debate but it has gradually become a forum for abuse. Several caricatures of the Prophet have been linked to directly from PST’s Facebook page and an aggressive debate has gathered momentum, as profane and prejudiced comments have been targeted against different minority groups.

dagbladet, prophet, mohammed, cartoon, caricature, drawing, kurt, westergaard, protest, muslims, demonstration, oslo, arfan, qadir, bhatti, demonstration



The Foreigner Logo

The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

Google+ Google+ Twitter Facebook RSS RSS



News Article

LATEST:

A Peaceful Protest with a Warning

Published on Friday, 12th February, 2010 at 19:54 under the news category, by Jess Chandler and Geirmund Knutsen.
Last Updated on 13th February 2010 at 13:27.

At 15:00 this afternoon, more than 3000 demonstrators gathered at Universitetsplassen on Karl Johans Gate in protest of the recent publication of a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed.

Praying man ©2010 The Foreigner
Praying man ©2010 The Foreigner
Photo: Jess Chandler/Geirmund Knutsen


Over the past 10 days anger has been mounting in response to Dagbladet’s decision to include a caricature of the Prophet in its coverage of the abusive content on Norway’s secret police service’s Facebook forum. Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste (PST) opened this forum last year with the intention of facilitating and encouraging debate but it has gradually become a forum for abuse.

Several caricatures of the Prophet have been linked to directly from PST’s Facebook page and an aggressive debate has gathered momentum, as profane and prejudiced comments have been targeted against different minority groups.

Since Arfan Qadir Bhatti, a suspected terrorist, started using the forum, moderators have felt compelled to step in and censor some of the content that has appeared, which has become increasingly hostile and antagonistic.

Today’s demonstrations began with a young boy’s call to prayer on the steps of the University building. Hundreds of men, forming a perfect semi-sphere, with a separate row of women behind, faced their imam and Mecca via the Prayer 2 ©2010 The Foreigner
Prayer 2 ©2010 The Foreigner
Jess Chandler/Geirmund Knutsen
National Theatre, and laid their winter coats on the snow-covered floor, before kneeling in prayer. Surrounded by the intrusive cameras of the media, the demonstration certainly seemed to have attracted the attention it wanted.

After the prayers, the crowds turned to face the University building in preparation for the speeches that followed. The first of these, an appeal for the necessity of a peaceful protest, was a plea that was adhered to without exception throughout the demonstration. Occasionally, a voice would shout out from the crowd, always followed by an eruption of supporting cheers, and the repeated call of ‘Allahu Akbar’. These calls of solidarity expressed the anger and determination of the crowd, yet there was no sign of any unrest, in what was a well organised, controlled, and peaceful demonstration.

A few black Khilafah flags were held and a number of improvised white placards appeared, conveying stark messages of anger and disappointment at the divisive actions of both Dagbladet and the PST. The most poignant of these read: “Islam er en del av Norge” (Islam is a part of Norway), which corresponded well with the core of the appeals. How can an action that offend so many be right, was asked, whilst encouraging the 'media and the authorities to work to create better attitudes, rather than create entertainment'.

The repeated calls for peaceful protest were accompanied by a warning that came as a reminder of the dangerous context of such sensitive issues. Four years after the first demonstration in Oslo concerning the cartoon controversy, reflected one speaker, 'today we are more hurt and feel more offended, and feel that our situation has got much worse. When will the Norwegian government and media understand the serious nature of this situation? Maybe not before it is too late, maybe not before a 9/11 or a 7/7 happens on Norwegian soil. This is no threat; it is a warning.’

Placards ©2010 The Foreigner
Placards ©2010 The Foreigner
Jess Chandler/Geirmund Knutsen
Walking with the protestors down Karl Johans Gate, past the Parliament building and on towards Oslo S, a well dressed man walking against the tide of people, an unopened bottle of cognac visible in his bag, stopped to question one of the fluorescently vested stewards: ‘Aren’t you happy to live in a country where you’re allowed to protest like this? he asked buoyantly. ‘Yes, of course’, the steward answered. ‘You know you could always go back to Iran’, the man continued.

The peaceful nature of today’s demonstration should not be taken for granted. At stake, is a serious and highly sensitive issue, relating not only to religion, but to the acceptance and inclusion of different cultural values. The debate is centered around the principle of freedom of expression, but involves real people and their identities.




Published on Friday, 12th February, 2010 at 19:54 under the news category, by Jess Chandler and Geirmund Knutsen.
Last updated on 13th February 2010 at 13:27.

This post has the following tags: dagbladet, prophet, mohammed, cartoon, caricature, drawing, kurt, westergaard, protest, muslims, demonstration, oslo, arfan, qadir, bhatti, demonstration.





  
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!