Oppland Arbeiderblad - 20 September 2011
[An image of the front page of the JohanMartinWelhaven.com website was placed here]
LIBEL: This website is the first hit for Johan Martin Welhaven on Google. The man behind the website is English. Welhaven has been in contact with UK police to have the threat assessed.
A standalone website has been set up in the name of Johan Martin Welhaven, exposing the new Chief of Police as an Islamophobe and laying some of the responsibility for 22 July at his door.
Published 20.09.2011 03:00 Updated 20.09.2011 17:37
Last Friday Welhaven was appointed Chief of Police for Vestoppland in southern Norway.
On the website that bears his name, Welhaven tops a list of people accused of Islamophobia and harassment of Muslims. It’s an English-language website and the domain is also registered to a man in the United Kingdom.
The home page begins: “Hatred for Islam permeates all levels of society in Norway. Mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is the extreme manifestation of this bigotry. But the Norwegian establishment bears a heavy burden of responsibility: they openly participated in the Muslim-bashing year in, year out.”
This is followed by the names and photographs of 19 persons who the originator of the site believes “had a defining role in the Islamophobic abuse”.
The website’s owner describes these people as “Protecting and nourishing perversion; clever manipulators from this isolated corner of Europe”.
It is not clear on the website why the originator is focusing on Welhaven. The accusations of Islamophobia and manipulation are not elaborated on. However, Johan Martin Welhaven himself knows the reason. “The Englishman behind the website has had a client relationship with the Norwegian Bureau for the Investigation of Police Affairs, of which I am still Deputy Director. He bears a grudge against me and a number of others because of the case he was involved in,” Welhaven told Oppland Arbeiderblad. He goes on to explain that the man in question has been writing on the website for several years, but the Islamophobe slant is new. Previously, the web pages had a different content.
Contacted the police
Although he is now trying to ignore the Englishman, Welhaven admits that the matter has taken its toll.
“I’ve taken a number of steps in terms of assessing my safety. Among other things I’ve been in contact with the UK authorities, as well as speaking to people in Norway with expertise in the field,” he says. Have you reported the situation? “No. There are legal steps that can be taken, which might deal with material of this nature on the web in the short term, but it could still pop up again in a different form at a later stage. So although I perceive it as harassment, I’ve decided that I can live with it so far, in any case. I haven’t been bothered by it beyond the knowledge that the website actually exists.”
The dark side of the web
Johan Martin Welhaven is a lawyer by training, but finds it difficult to protect himself against the smear campaign. “This case, and others that are worse, are a reminder that the Internet has a seriously dark side. It is somewhere people can easily torment and harass others completely unchecked,” he states.