Lately I catch myself saying more and more frequently, “You can't make this stuff up.”
In Norway there is a royal decoration called the King's Medal of Merit. The medal is awarded from time to time to individuals who have served Norwegian society in an outstanding and exemplary way.
In Norway there is also a man who was born with the name Trond Linstad. He is a physician with a practice in Oslo. In the 1970s he was a prominent member of the Workers' Communist Party (AKP), a revolutionary Maoist group. He has long been active on behalf of the Palestinians. He worked as a doctor in Palestinian refugee camps. In 1971 he was expelled from Jordan, from which he had been preparing to cross into Israel in the company of armed Palestinian soldiers. From 1977 to 1986 he led the Palestinian Committee of Norway.
It was during this period that Linstad, inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution in Iran, made a momentous decision: he exchanged his ardent Communism for an equally ardent devotion to Shia Islam. He took a new middle name, become Trond Ali Linstad. In 1988, on the anniversary of Khomeini's death, Linstad gave a speech in his memory, saying that the ayatollah had “shown us the way to go. He reminded us what Islam is!” A defender of Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Linstad was one of a group of Muslims who sued the Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses. To this day, he remains a fervent supporter of the Iranian regime.
And of its execution of homosexuals. And of jihad. And of violence against Israel. And of Hamas.
In 1987 Linstad founded an “independent Muslim magazine” called Muslim. And in 2001 he established Norway's very first Muslim elementary school, Urtehagen Skole, in Grønland, a largely Muslim neighborhood of Oslo. Linstad was everything at the school: principal, chairman of the board, owner of the building. After tensions arose between him and several parents, and the school's finances turned out to be a shambles, and local authorities issued a devastating report about the way the place was run, it closed its doors in 2004, although Linstad now operates a day-care center and a one-year secondary-level school for Muslim women under the same name and at the same location.
After the September 11 attacks, Linstad suggested that both the U.S. and Israel had known about them beforehand. In 2003 he publicly defended terrorist attacks on Israeli soldiers. In 2005 it was revealed that his wife Karin had worked in the Mossad as a double agent for the Palestinians. In 2008 Linstad translated a letter written by Osama bin Laden and circulated it among the Norwegian media. In 2010, he issued a set of instructions directed at his fellow Norwegian Muslims: since “God is the highest authority,” he wrote, Muslims, while acknowledging the authority of the Norwegian government, “should not adopt ideas or norms...that cannot be reconciled with Islam.” Norway, after all, is taking part, “along with the U.S. and Israel, in the starvation of the people of Gaza,” the U.S. being “a hegemonic power with military bases all over the world” whose “dominance must be opposed.” Therefore, Muslims should “raise the Islamic flag! Build Islamic institutions. Construct Islamic schools, strengthen Islamic day-care centers, and start Islamic youth clubs.” They should avoid fellow Muslims who “collaraborate” and “compromise” with “those in power.” For “Muslims do not believe in liberal democracy, the form of government here [in Norway]....Islam...is revolutionary, and aims for a better world....Islam is the ultimate faith.”
Linstad has also written extensively about Jews: “Be critical of Jews in the world, when it comes to the influence they have, in newspapers and other media, in many political organs, and in contacts and networks that can be found in the places where decisions are made....Beware the Jews! They can speak warmly for a cause, for democracy and human rights...but it can sometimes appear to be a façade that is concealing a deeper involvement that involves “Jewish” interests.”
Yes, you guessed it: kindly Dr. Linstad has been nominated for the King's Medal of Merit. It was one of his colleagues at Urtehagen Skole, Jan Akerjordet, who put his name forward, suggesting that he should be recognized for having “given immigrants in Oslo a better life.” The county administrator for Oslo and neighboring Akershus, which advises the Palace on such matters, decided that Linstad did indeed deserve the decoration. So did the King's Medal Council, which makes the final decision in such matters. The medal was scheduled to be presented to Linstad at noon on Tuesday, November 13, at the National Theater by Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang.
Then the news got out.
It is a credit to many ordinary people in Norway that outrage ensued. Lots of it. The Royal Palace, the mayor's office, the National Theater – all were flooded with complaints. The massive public outcry led Stang to announced on Monday, November 12, that he would not be presenting the medal to Linstad after all. The same day, theater officials declared that they did not want the ceremony taking place on their premises; accordingly, it was rescheduled to take place at Urtehagen Skole on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Tuesday morning's issue of Aftenposten contained an op-ed by a group of prominent Norwegians from both the political left and right – including officials at the Holocaust Center in Oslo, the Jewish Museum in Oslo, the free-market think tank Civita, and the far-left Anti-Racist Center – begging the King to withhold the medal, and pointing out that under the law he has the power to do so. At 1 p.m., an hour before the scheduled medal presentation, the Royal Palace issued a statement: it was putting a temporary hold on the awarding of the medal to Linstad in order to think the whole thing over. That evening Linstad was ordered to present himself at the Palace next Monday to “explain himself.”
It will be interesting to see what happens. Is the Palace really considering withdrawing the medal on principled grounds? Or is it just waiting to see if the fury dies down? If the award is withdrawn, it will be a first. If not, it will be yet another black mark on the disgraceful recent record of the Norwegian political establishment – and a grim day in the history of the Norwegian monarchy.