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Historisk arkiv

Social inclusion in Norway after 22 july

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg II

Utgiver: Barne-, likestillings- og inkluderingsdepartementet

Meeting at Europe-Ecologie - Les Verts Clermont-Ferrand, France 20 August 2011

Meeting at Europe-Ecologie - Les Verts
Clermont-Ferrand, France
 20 August 2011

Madame Joly, Madame Duflot, mesdames, messieurs –

Je suis heureux d’etre ici avec vous. Je vous remercie pour votre solidarité, c`est important pour nous dans ces jours difficiles et graves pour notre pays. Notre response aux attentats du 22 juillet est plus de democracie, plus de pluralité et une solidarité plus profonde dans notre societé. Je veux vous dire comment on peut garder la diversité dans la societé norvegienne. C’est une question essentielle pour tous les pays de l`Europe aujourd´hui.

Malheureusement, ca fait longtemps que j’ai parlé francais. Donc, je ne peux pas vous adresser dans votre langue. Je m`excuse et je vais continuer en anglais.


The terror attacks of 22 July and what it did to Norwegian society

On Friday 22 July, Norway experienced the worst attacks since the second word war. The government headquarters in Oslo were severely damaged by a massive bomb, and eight people were killed. Then, the killer continued to Utøya, where he killed 69 young people and wounded many more. He attacked the annual summer camp of the young Social Democrats. The attack was directed against the labour movement and the basic values of our Government.

I would like to share with you the story of Sophia. Sophia is a 13-year old girl, living in Oslo, playing football, like many of her classmates. She lives in Oslo`s East End, in Grunerløkka, the same part of the city where Eva Joly grew up.  But Sophia is also a Muslim. Her parents came to our country from Iran. Three days after the bombing in Oslo and the shooting at Utøya, Sophia participated at an internet chat with child psychologists organised by the Norwegian Broadcasting Cooperation. In her email, she wrote:
Hello, I am 13 years old and a Norwegian Muslim. I feel that this is my fault. He says he killed everybody because I am here. Should I leave to protect Norwegian children in the future? This is how I feel. Best regards, Sophia

Sophia´s fear and insecurity say a lot about how many Norwegians with a different background felt after the terrible terrorist acts of 22 July. The attack was politically motivated, aimed at particular political ideals. It was an attack on diversity, motivated by a dream of ethnic and religious purity. The killer’s twisted arguments for his acts have left many people feeling insecure.
In the weeks after the attack our government and our people have presented a clear answer to the vicious violence. We will not let fear reduce the openness of our society. We will not let hate strangle our democratic ways. We will not bow to the attempt at setting different groups of our citizens up against one another. We are not naïve about the threat from enemies of democracy, but changing our values and our way of life would be to give in to their demands.

Out of these sad, grave and testing times we hope to see a society where solidarity grows stronger, instead of weaker. We want an inclusive and diverse society where everyone living in Norway has an equal opportunity to participate in society, in all areas.

The terrorist bombing and the massacre on our young at Utøya the 22 of July were an attack on politically active citizens, and an attack on our young multicultural generation. The reaction of the Norwegian people shows a stronger feeling of togetherness in our country. Too often in the past we`ve seen each other primarily as representatives of groups – of various ethnic groups, of various religious beliefs.

Today Norwegians of a great variety of backgrounds, with their roots in different corners of the world, are among the killed and the wounded, among the heroes who rescued the lives of others, among the grieving. We find ourselves standing together in our most troubled time. We understand that we live together, that we share the same destiny. Being Norwegian today is not about how many generations your family have been in Norway, but about what you feel for our country and the values on which we try to build it.

Group thinking and the placing of collective guilt on certain groups in our society, in particular aggressive rhetoric against Muslims and immigrants, is today occurring all over Europe. There are strong political forces exploiting such sentiments. No one but the terrorist is to blame for the terrible acts of 22 July. But many share a responsibility for the political climate where children like Sophia feel insecure. Where people fear condemnation and discrimination because of their beliefs or the colour of their skin.  My pledge to Sophia is that we will confront those ideas, and the fear they try to create among us, even more actively than before.  If we want to, we can move in the opposite direction, towards more tolerance and more democracy. That`s the test we`re facing, it is a challenge for all progressive movements in Europe.

Norwegian policies to ensure an inclusive society for immigrants

The terrorist acts of last month have emphasized the importance of including immigrants and their children in our society. We need to demystify the question of integration of minorities into our societies. It is not primarily a question of culture or religion. The important factors are the social ones. Do people find work? Do they learn the language? Do their children avoid growing up in poverty? Do women get the same chances as men? The debate is not about whether people of different backgrounds can or should live together. That`s our reality! It`s about how – it`s about concrete measures to tackle concrete challenges.

The main principles of Norwegian integration policies stand firm. To achieve a society where everybody has the same rights, we need an active policy. In integration policies, these measures center on language, work and gender equality.

Absence of racism and discrimination are requirements for participation on equal terms. This is grounded in an overarching understanding of human rights – that every individual has his or her own intrinsic value, irrespective of their background.

The first task for newly arrived immigrants is to learn the Norwegian language and become familiar with Norwegian society. Guaranteeing the right and obligation to participate in instruction in the Norwegian language and an introductory programme for refugees are two important measures that help to speed up the process whereby immigrants and refugees rapidly enter working life and become self-reliant.

Employment is of major importance for each individual’s living conditions and financial situation and ensuring employment for everyone is one of the most important factors in reducing social differences. Effort towards discrimination and for recruitment of employees with immigrant background is of major importance here.

One of the most important goals of our red-green government is to achieve gender equality for everyone, including the immigrant population. Financial independence is an underpinning for all equality. Participation in working life for women is therefore seen as one of the most important measures to achieve gender equality for all. Providing language training, day care for children and adequate labour training are key measures to reach some groups where few women are employed as of today.

We face challenges. Unemployment is higher among immigrants, fewer women work, more children grow up in poverty. But there are solutions. And more often than not those solutions are to be found in the traditional response of the progressive forces of politics – a more just society, a regulated labour market, a democracy where ordinary people have real power, a society not sharply divided by class and growing social inequalities.

The prerequisites for the inclusive society – trust and social equality

I believe one factor to be an absolute prerequisite for the stronger feeling of togetherness, of common destiny, that we can feel in our country right now. Trust. Research shows that Norway is one of the European countries with the highest levels of trust between people. Norway is also one of the countries with the lowest degrees of social inequality in the world. There is a strong coherence between the two.

To fight discrimination, to build trust, and to create a stronger feeling of solidarity. All these depend on our struggle to create a more socially just society. 

Closing remarks

Madame Joly, Madame Duflot, ladies and gentlemen –
The terrorist attacks on 22 July in Oslo and at Utøya have changed Norway. But not in the way the killer wanted. Our people have met hate with hope, fear with courage, and viciousness with togetherness.

La democratie est plus forte que la violence. L`esperance est plus forte que la haine.

Merci pour votre attention, merci beaucoup pour votre solidarité.