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Oslo is, of course, not alone in having undergone this cultural sea change: many major cities in Western Europe have experienced similar transformations. Yet it now appears that the incidence of rapes in Oslo has now eclipsed that in the other two Scandinavian capitals, Stockholm and Copenhagen. This is quite an achievement, given that Oslo has traditionally been the smallest and sleepiest of these three cities – the least cosmopolitan, the one that feels more like a safe small town than a European capital. In fact, it turns out that the incidence of rape in Copenhagen has been on the decline. It is perhaps not entirely coincidental that Denmark, for the last decade, has also been the country with the most sensible immigration and integration policies in Western Europe. (Nor is it coincidental that the other Scandinavian capitals have twice as many police per inhabitant as Oslo does.)
A glimpse of the official mentality that makes this steady rise in rape statistics possible was provided in an article that appeared in the Norwegian daily Dagbladet on October 25. It appears that in the summer of last year, the same paper ran a story about Abdi, a Somali immigrant, then 24 years old, who since coming to Norway as an asylum seeker had committed 14 robberies, been incarcerated, become a narcotic, and lived on welfare. On June 3, 2010, Dagbladet reported, an Oslo court had ruled that Abdi, who is not a Norwegian citizen, should be returned to Somalia. Now, however, that ruling has been overturned by an appeals court. Abdi’s lawyer was jubilant, saying that this decision “is important for many Somalis in this country.” (Of all immigrant groups in Norway, Somalis are among those with the lowest employment and highest crime rates.) The lawyer chided Norway for having shown “an ugly face in this case” by planning to return her client to Somalia, but she expressed hope that given the new decision Norway would “change its practice” – presumably meaning that no amount of unsavory activity would make it possible to kick an immigrant out.
The appeals court’s basis for its decision to let Abdi stay in Norway was that it might be dangerous for him to live in Somalia. Whether letting him stay in Norway might make life dangerous for Norwegians didn’t seem to enter into the court’s calculus. It’s not only the courts, to be sure, that are at fault in this sort of situation. In such cases, the media almost invariably step in and bombard the public with shameless propaganda designed to stir up sympathy for the miscreant in question. So it was with the Dagbladet article the other day, which sought to present Abdi as repentant, reformed, and reflective – indeed, almost sagacious and saintly. He was represented as having claimed that he has turned over a new leaf and that he now wants to help wayward immigrant kids to straighten out. He also supposedly said that he wants to study to be a sociologist (which, the more one thinks about it, sounds potentially even more dangerous than if he decided to persevere in his life of crime).
So it goes in Norway in the year 2011. Oslo is undergoing a rape crisis. There is a good deal of chatter about it and many proposals and counter-proposals for solutions. But until the authorities begin to take the welfare of law-abiding citizens as seriously as they take the welfare of criminal foreigners, the problem will only grow worse.
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