Envoys Call Political Leader's Comments Anti-Muslim and Intolerant

July 27, 2004

Source: Daily Times

Wire Service: Reuters


On July 27, 2004 Reuters reported, "Anti-Muslim remarks by a far-right Norwegian political leader have sparked an unprecedented furore in Norway and a sharp reproof from envoys from Muslim countries. Diplomats from Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco and Tunisia said in a joint letter to the daily Aftenposten that opposition Progress Party leader Carl Hagen had insulted 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide. Hagen, addressing a Christian congregation in Bergen, western Norway earlier this month, used words widely taken to refer to the use by Muslim extremists of young people as suicide bombers. 'We Christians are very concerned about the children. "Let the children come to me," Jesus said. I cannot understand that Mohammad said the same. In that case, it had to have been: "Let the children come to me so that I can abuse them in my fight for Islamisation of the world,"' he said, adding that Israel should be defended to help prevent the spread of terrorism. In the letter published in Aftenposten, the diplomats said Hagen had 'violated the principles of tolerance, understanding and cultural freedom that form the bedrock of Norwegian society.' But populist Hagen...was unrepentant, saying he had been speaking about Muslim fundamentalists and terrorists - not about Muslims in general...'(The diplomats) are making themselves speakers of behalf of a religion - namely Muslims - that is not their job,' Hagen told Reuters. 'Ambassadors represent states, not a religion.' Hagen’s speech has sparked wide public debate in Norway over freedom of speech versus cultural and religious tolerance in a country that is still largely homogeneous after only a few decades of immigration."