On December 19, I wrote here about my friend Hege Storhaug, whose 2015 book, a bestseller in her native Norway, is now available in English under the title Islam: Europe Invaded, America Warned. In an article that appeared on January 3, I noted that prosecutions for anti-Islam “hate speech” are on the rise in Western Europe – but that Norway, at least, is not racking up the convictions fast enough to suit the United Nations. At a December meeting in Geneva, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination charged Norwegian authorities with failing to tighten the screws sufficiently on people who dare to think that freedom of speech means freedom to offend Muslims.
Well, here we go. On January 6, Hege announced at the website of her organization, Human Rights Service, that she and her Islam book have been reported to that selfsame committee, which has been asked to demand of the Norwegian government that Hege be investigated and punished. In my January 3 article, I mentioned that the committee had been dissatisfied with Norway’s failure to prosecute “high-profile cases of hate speech.” Well, when it comes to dragging people into court for criticizing Islam, Hege is as high-profile a target as you could find in the whole country. Not only was her book a massive bestseller, but because of her participation in TV debates and radio interviews her face and voice are familiar to everyone in Norway. To many Norwegians she is a hero, and to many others – those who are determined to silence any negative commentary about Islam – she is the nation’s most prominent voice of hate.
Who is it, exactly, that has reported Hege to the UN? Well, the report in which she was fingered, which is known as a “shadow report” and which is supposed to represent the views of Norwegian civil society, was sponsored by the Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion. Like all of the Norwegian ministries, this one is under the control of the so-called “blue-green” (i.e. non-socialist) government, which has employed Hege’s organization, Human Rights Service as a consultant on immigration and integration issues. The government, moreover, is a coalition of the Conservative, Liberal, and Progress parties, the latter of which is known primarily for its own criticism of Islamic immigration. Very odd.
Less odd is the fact that the report to the UN was prepared by a representative of the Norwegian Centre against Racism (Antirasistisk senter, or ARS). No surprise there: ARS, which is lavishly funded by the Norwegian government, exists primarily to whitewash Islam and smear its critics. A few years back, when he was an official at ARS, Shoaib Sultan, who is now a Green Party politician, notoriously refused to condemn the Islamic death penalty for gays, and ARS let him get away with it. That’s the kind of outfit ARS is.
The report was also signed by representatives of 23 other organizations in Norway that should know better than to attack the likes of Hege Storhaug and that, in any case, have no business calling for a private citizen to be punished for writing a book. They include Det mosaiske trossamfund (the Jewish community), the Orthodox Church in Norway, Church City Mission (the Church of Norway’s ministry to the needy), Leieboerforeningen (the tenants’ rights association), Norwegian People’s Aid (which provides international humanitarian assistance), the youth branch of the Norwegian chapter of Save the Children, Union of Education Norway (the teachers’ union), Queer World (a gay-rights group), Pro Center (which protects the rights of prostitutes), Minotenk (a “multicultural think tank”), JussBuss (legal aid), plus one group representing the Sami people, three groups representing gypsies, and two groups representing the Kven people, who live way up inside the Arctic Circle and whom I had never heard of before.
Most, if not all, of these groups receive financial support from the Norwegian government. Many of them also solicit donations from the public. At the very least, it seems wildly inappropriate for most of them to be involved in a matter like this. In the case of Christian and Jewish and gay organizations, which represent populations that are directly threatened by the rise of Islam in Europe, their involvement is the height of self-destructive folly. But then again, the guy who runs Det mosaiske trossamfund, the Jewish group, Ervin Kohn, is at the same time the deputy chairman of ARS, the purportedly anti-racist group. As Hege herself wrote in October 2014, Kohn, before going to work for ARS, was blunt about the fact that Jewish kids in Oslo were routinely being beaten up by Muslim kids who “come from societies where anti-Semitism is common.” After taking up the ARS job, however, Kohn changed his tune: “There is no basis for the claim that anti-Semitism is a Muslim problem.”
On January 7, I made a few phone calls. First, I called Norwegian People’s Aid, which has a dedicated number for media inquiries. My call was answered by Håkon Ødegaard, communications chief. I identified myself, said I was a writer for FrontPage Magazine, and asked him if he had read Hege’s piece of the day before. He had. I asked why his organization had signed that report to the UN. He told me he was “at home today” – off duty – and therefore disinclined to discuss the issue. I pointed out that I had reached him at his employer’s media number and pressed him politely to answer the question. In reply he asked me what kind of publication FrontPage is. I said it was a news and commentary site. At his request I spelled out the URL. He found it on his computer. “Oh, a Trump site!” he exclaimed unpleasantly. Again, I asked him to reply to my question. Belligerent now, he told me that he would not talk to me because I am not officially registered as a journalist in Norway.
I tried Church City Mission. The man who answered said he didn’t know anything about the UN report. He, too, had questions about FrontPage, but said he would have the communications officer e-mail me; I spelled out my e-mail address. (At this writing I have received no e-mail.) I then called the tenants’ association. I had made the first two calls in Norwegian, but this time I spoke in English, on the theory that my interlocutors might take me more seriously; I also omitted any reference to FrontPage, instead identifying myself as a freelancer (which I am) and naming a couple of the more prominent mainstream publications for which I’ve written. The woman who answered the phone was polite and said she would connect me with her boss, but when she returned to the phone she said that he was not available at the moment and would call me back. He never did.
I phoned a couple of other places on the list. Nobody picked up. Eventually I decided that making these calls was a fool’s errand. The only way to get the truth out of any of these people would be to pull a Project Veritas – meet them under a fake name, pretend to be on their side, and record them on hidden camera. But even that would be a waste of time. What would I learn that I didn't already know? What I do know is this: that these so-called civil-society organizations in Norway are all run by the same kind of people. They’ve spent their lives as part of the Norwegian cultural elite; they all have more or less the same politics; and many of them spend their careers shuffling from one of these groups (and/or left-wing political parties and/or government bureaucracies) to another, earning handsome salaries on the backs of taxpayers for doing very little that somebody with a real job would recognize as work. They all think that it’s a noble idea to silence criticism of Islam and that people like Hege Storhaug (and yours truly) are nothing but troublemakers. And they all love the UN, which loves them back, and which shares their illiberal views and their determination to crush dissent.
I asked Hege for a comment on the UN report. “The fact that the borgerlige [bourgeois, i.e., non-socialist] Norwegian government should even sponsor such a report, and give the job of writing it to extreme left-wing forces,” she said, “shows that the fight against freedom of speech is being waged not only by the left but also by elements on the right. I know that for our government, Islam is not an issue – not even behind closed doors. That says a lot about the fear [in elite circles] of confronting the dark side of Islam.” She went on to observe that the assault on her by a supposedly conservative government, in cahoots with a gaggle of leftist organizations, only confirms a point she makes in her book – namely, that “no subject is more taboo in our time than the obvious problems caused by organized Islam.” And the failure to confront these problems, Hege added in closing, “may be our downfall.”