Democratization And Reform In The Arab And Muslim World

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September 10, 2010 Special Dispatch No.3222

Palestinian Intellectual in Norway: Muslims Living Here Must Look Out For Their Country’s Security

In early July 2010, Norwegian police announced the arrest of three individuals living in Oslo for involvement in planning terror attacks on Norwegian soil. The Norwegian press reported that the attacks were thwarted and the arrests made possible due to information provided to authorities by members of the local Muslim community.

In the wake of these events, Ahmad Abu Matar, a Palestinian intellectual residing in Norway, wrote a column praising the Muslims in the country for their moderation and for their cooperation with the authorities in the fight against terror elements. He said that the Arabs and Muslims in Norway should help maintain security out of their religious beliefs.

The following are excerpts from the column:[1]

This Moderate Preacher "Called on Muslims to Respect the Laws of the Countries in Which They Resided – Because Each of Them Is an Ambassador of the Prophet [Muhammad]"

"The head of the Uzbek minority association in Norway [should be esteemed], because his community wrote many times to Norwegian intelligence services to warn of the development and emergence of extremist ideas in its community, and because [his community] is committed to monitoring things like this that could harm Norwegian security.

"In the same breath, the Muslim friend of [one of the terror cell] detainees… David Jacobsen should also be esteemed for showing responsibility and reporting to Norwegian intelligence services that his Uighur Muslim friend had asked him for help in obtaining a forged Norwegian passport. Following this, hidden cameras were placed in the Uighur’s apartment to monitor [his] suspicious movements.

"The Norwegian Islamic Association, one of the most important Arab and Islamic institutions in the country… has won great respect among most Arabs and Muslims for its ongoing educational activity about the proper Islam based on moderation… The association’s efforts in this area are estimable and worthy of respect – particularly its invitations to moderate sheikhs and preachers to lecture at Muslim conferences….

"The Friday July 23 sermon by Sheikh ‘Ali ‘Abdallah Abu Al-Hassan, the imam of the Hungarian Council of Muslims, who came at the Islamic Association’s invitation, was extremely important. This preacher explained that the image of Islam amongst non-Muslims is affected by the behavior of the Muslims in their countries. He called on Muslims to respect the laws of the countries in which they resided, because each of them is an ambassador of the Prophet [Muhammad]…

"Also, Ibrahim Balkilani, the current secretary-general of the Islamic Association, told me… [that] ‘it is appropriate that the way of life of a Muslim in any country will be based on what is written in the Koran and in the Sunna – that is… accepting the customs and conventions unique to the society in which he lives. The Muslim must take upon himself the laws of that country, [as part of] his upholding of the contract emphasized in the Koran and in the Sunna.

"In our view, Muslims in Western countries are no longer considered immigrants, but citizens with rights and obligations, and Islam calls for meeting obligations before demanding rights. By carrying out one’s civic duties, strengthening social ties, and supporting unity and security, the Muslim fulfils both a religious and a national obligation. The religious values encourage the fulfillment of the demands of the state, while the national values, in turn, permit and also intensify… the religious values that are based on tolerance, moderation, cooperation, and familiarity [with the other]."

"Young People Have a Mission: To Spread the Values of Tolerance and Moderation"

"Young people have a mission: to spread the values of tolerance and moderation. There are also those from the previous generations of immigrants who are highly capable of meeting the demands of being a citizen, and of leaving the circle of [immigrants’] isolation for the circle of functioning as a fundamental part of the society in which they live. Their command of the local languages and their accurate knowledge of the culture and customs of these societies open new paths for them to form relationships and to live together [with their host society,] abolishing the duality of ‘them’ and ‘us.’ [In this way,] the Muslim becomes a fundamental part of the collective ‘I’ in the framework of the other sectors of society.

"These Islamic opinions, that correspond with what the Koran says – ‘ Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation (16:125)’ – are not exclusive to Ibrahim Balkilani. The leadership of the [Norwegian] Islamic Association openly espouses them, in its lectures and its activities. We mention in particular the Friday sermons [by sheikhs who are members of the association], who best demonstrate how a Muslim should conduct himself in a land he has come to by choice and that has taken him in and given him citizenship and security. It is his Islamic obligation to follow its laws and to refuse to cooperate with anyone who seeks to do evil to it.

"[I] have not even mentioned here other figures from the Norwegian Islamic Association, who work diligently to show that we are a fundamental element in this country’s security and stability – because here we enjoy religious freedom that some of us have never had in some Arab and Islamic [countries]. How honorable and estimable it is to see, on the weekly day of rest, young Muslim men and women standing in the main streets in Oslo at stalls featuring an array of [copies of] the Koran in several languages, along with books calling to Islam, and answering the questions of passersby seeking information about Islam. That is, they are preaching to Islam in public – and the Norwegian authorities, and Norwegian law, do not ban them from doing so.

"Isn’t this country worthy of our protection of its security and stability – security and stability which belong to us as well, as Norwegian citizens of Arab and Islamic origin?"


[1], August 28, 2010.

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