12/29/03

Imams anger Bondevik

Norway's Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik admits to being strongly provoked after a close look at Oslo imam Sohail Ahmed's criticism of Norwegian society as having a lack of fundamental values.

Bondevik told state broadcaster NRK that Ahmed's speech, which was broadcast on NRK's evening news, painted a biased view of Norwegian society.

Imam Ahmed, leader of the Idarah mosque in Oslo, emphasized the breakup of families, depression, psychological problems among children and HIV as manifestations of the lack of values in Norwegian society.

Bondevik appealed to Muslim communities to stop letting prejudice damage immigrant integration. "The power of the imams in immigrant communities is great which makes their message extremely important," said Bondevik to NRK.

"If we are going to achieve positive integration it is important that they learn more about the values on which our society is built. Perhaps then we can contribute something to each other instead of heading for a powerful confrontation, which this could easily lead to," said Bondevik.

Aftenposten English Web Desk
Jonathan Tisdall/NTB


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