Attacks on religion as anti-Muslim group burns Quran and gunman attacks mosque

Expression

Hate speech a priority after Mosque attack

On 10th August 2019, a gunman opened fire on a mosque in Bærum, close to Oslo. One man was injured. A 21-year-old Norwegian, Philip Manshaus, was taken into custody after being overpowered by police. Police reported that he had previously expressed far right and anti-immigrant views.

Posts under Manshaus’s name were found on an online forum called EndChan dated prior to the attack. In the posts, he expresses admiration for Brenton Tarrant, who is accused of killing 50 people during an attack on two mosques in New Zealand in March 2019. Manshaus has been charged with a terrorist act and attempted murder but denies the charges.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Erna Solberg told reporters that "combating hate speech" was a priority, and that elderly people with "extreme views against Islam" were a cause for concern.

Norway deports American extreme-right nationalist writer

On 2nd November 2019, Norwegian police arrested Greg Johnson, a well-known American white nationalist, and deported him from the country two days later. Johnson is a writer and publisher who was in Norway to speak at a Scandza Forum conference in Oslo. Norway’s public broadcaster describes Scandza Forum as “anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant.”

Officials say that his arrest was affected on grounds of national security. The intelligence service declared him “to be a threat, not because of what he could do but because of his hate speech and his previously expressed support for Anders Breivik.” Breivik is a right-wing terrorist who killed 77 people in attacks in Oslo and Utoya in 2011.

Johnson claims that his words on Breivik have been taken out of context. His lawyer said that he had not been charged with a crime but would appeal his deportation and return to Norway based on “free speech laws.”

Assembly

Anti-Muslim group burns Quran

On 28th September 2019 Stop Islamisation of Norway (SIAN), a far-right anti-Islam group staged a protest in Oslo. Police said that the protest was legal.

A counter demonstration was held by several hundred people from Red Youth and other organisations.

Three people from the counter demonstration were detained for crossing the barricade between the two protests.

On the 20th November 2019 SIAN held another protest in the Norwegian city of Kristianland. However, the protest turned violent when the leader of the group, Lars Thorsen set alight a copy of the Quran - the holy Islamic book. Two copies of the Quran were also thrown in a bin. These actions led to a fight breaking out with a group who was counter demonstrating. It is reported that police intervened, arresting both Thorsen and the attackers.

In response to the burning of the Quran, Norway Muslim association announced that it is distributing 10,000 copies of the holy book in Norwegian in ‘an effort to fight racism and hate’.