Muslim Comedian Brings Humor to Assimilation Debate

November 14, 2003

Source: The New York Times

On November 14, 2003 The New York Times ran a feature article on Shabana Rehman, a Muslim comedian: "She is both Muslim and Norwegian — an unsettling combination to many people in this Nordic kingdom, which, like the rest of Europe, is struggling to absorb an immigrant community imported during a labor shortage decades ago. Her ribald and impolitic act skewers prejudices on both sides of the divide between traditional Norwegians and the country's newer Muslim citizens. Ms. Rehman is one of a handful of Muslim comics enlivening the debate across Europe about how quickly or completely the continent's new immigrants should assimilate...Ms. Rehman believes Norway, with a relatively small immigrant population, may be the best place in northern Europe to have that debate because the topic is not politicized to the degree that it is elsewhere in the region. Still, her comedy and social criticism, both on stage and in her widely read newspaper columns, have excited passions in the country. In fact, the discussion of how Norway's Muslim population should behave has become known as the 'Shabana debate.'"