Norway: Parliament approves dual citizenship

Last of the Nordics to do so:

It was a big day for long-term expatriates in Norway and Norwegians who’ve moved abroad. After years of debate, a majority in Parliament finally approved dual citizenship in Norway on Thursday for all those who have strong ties to both their homeland and their country of residence.


“I think this is a day of great joy,” said Ove Trellevik, a member of Parliament for the Conservative Party that backed dual citizenship along with every other party in Parliament except the Labour Party and the Center Party.

The Liberal Party was also celebrating the dual citizenship victory, with cake decorated with images of a Norwegian passport.  Some Liberal Party members claimed the approval wouldn’t have come if the Liberals hadn’t joined the government in January. Both the Conservatives and the Progress Party, however, had already signaled their support in 2017 and earlier.

Trellevik noted that the law banning dual citizenship dated from 1888. “It was ripe for a re-evaluation, and had to adapt to the times we’re living in,” Trellevik told news bureau NTB. Donna Fox, who spearheaded a major effort to end the ban on dual citizenship, wrote in a message to that “after a long campaign we have all won the best possible outcome for all.”

It will allow immigrants in Norway to keep the citizenship of their birth while also acquiring Norwegian citizenship and finally being able, for example, to vote in national elections. It will also allow Norwegians who have moved abroad and become citizens of their resident country to retain, or re-acquire, their Norwegian passports. They had to give up their Norwegian citizenship if they became citizens of, for example, the US or Australia, just like Americans and Australians would have had to surrender their passports in order to acquire a Norwegian one. Many have refused to do so, living in Norway on the grounds of permanent residence permission and having to renew residence within the EU’s Schengen area every two years.


Norway has been been one of the few countries in the world, and the only Nordic country, to have banned dual citizenship until now. While even the anti-immigration Progress Party was won over by those advocating dual citizenship (if only to be able to revoke Norwegian citizenship for those committing crimes and enable deportation to their country of birth) both the Labour and Center parties still objected.

The farmer-friendly Center Party, known for its protectionist policies, argued that it was a question of loyalty: “If Norway is in conflict with another country, will a person with citizenship in both countries think only of Norway’s interests when they vote?” queried Center Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum in a recent commentary in newspaper Dagbladet. Both the Center and Labour parties also argued that dual citizenship will weaken efforts to prevent forced marriages and some immigrants’ practice of sending their children out of the country to discipline them.

Trellevik counters both arguments, claiming that it can be easier to follow up such cases when the children are also Norwegian citizens, while he also thinks dual citizenship can dampen conflicts rather than heighten them.

It will take awhile before the new law takes effect, however. NTB noted that Norway first must revoke the Council of Europe’s convention from May 6, 1963 that states how Norwegian citizens must give up their citizenship if they accept a new one. Then it will take at least one year from the Council of Europe’s receipt of the revocation notice until the law is valid. The Education Ministry is responsible for the process, expected to be completed sometime in 2020 and hopefully well in advance of the next national election in 2021.

Source: Parliament approves dual citizenship

Norway: Critics try to block dual citizenship

Will see whether Norway joins the other Nordics in allowing dual citizenship:

The Center- and Labour parties are scrambling to block looming passage of a new law that would finally remove a long-standing ban on dual citizenship in Norway. Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, the protectionist, anti-EU leader of the Center Party, is among those launching a last-ditch effort to prevent Norway from allowing dual citizenship, and thus falling in line with most of the rest of the world.


“In this case, children of diplomats and foreign students are more important for the government than women and children who are dumped abroad,” Vedum told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) over the weekend. Vedum, whose small party has always opposed dual citizenship, now claims dual citizenship will make it more difficult to bring children who’ve been kidnapped and taken to another country by a foreign parent back to Norway.

“That’s a very drastic and completely biased commentary from Vedum, who only shows that he hasn’t understood this (the dual citizenship) issue,” retorted Kristin Holm Jensen, a state secretary for the Conservative Party in the education ministry.  She noted that many women who are subjected to forced marriages or whose children are kidnapped by a foreign spouse come from countries where Norway already has made exceptions that will allow dual citizenship.

“The Center Party’s opposition (to dual citizenship) won’t help them,” Jensen said. “We have many other measures to help protect them, both in Norway and through assistance from Norway’s embassies.” Children of parents from different countries, meanwhile, have long been granted citizenship in each and allowed to retain it at least until the age of 18.

Almost alone with current ban
Norway remains the only Nordic country that still has a general ban on dual citizenship, and one of the very few in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Momentum has been growing for years to end the ban, which is widely viewed as old-fashioned and isolationist in a global society where many people have moved internationally and have allegiances to both their country of birth and their country of residence.

In Norway, the ban has meant that thousands of long-term expatriates living in Norway have been denied the right to vote in national elections, because they’ve been unable to gain Norwegian citizenship unless they give up their citizenship from birth. Thousands of Norwegians who have moved abroad, meanwhile, have also been forced to give up their Norwegian citizenship if they’ve obtained citizenship in their country of residence, for example for job reasons.

The proposed law to finally allow dual citizenship in Norway has received majority support throughout its hearing process earlier this year. The government coalition thus sent the proposal to Parliament this autumn, even though it includes the immigration-skeptical Progress Party. Progress, however, now supports dual citizenship on the grounds it will make it easier for Norway to deport criminals or terror suspects who came to Norway from other countries but now only possess Norwegian citizenship. That citizenship can’t be revoked, but it could be if they’d been allowed to retain their original citizenship.

NRK reported that the dual citizenship proposal has sparked warnings from the Norwegian Bar Association, the police and the children’s ombud that it could have a negative effect in cases of forced marriage, kidnapping and cases of Norwegian citizens being held abroad against their will. Others claim, however, that the very fact they could no longer be stripped of their Norwegian citizenship offsets such risk.

While the Center Party has always opposed dual citizenship, it’s more surprising that the Labour Party is going along with arguments against it. Labour has long been an advocate of internationalism and multilateralism, and is currently led by former Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Debate due in December
Center and Labour are allied, however, in an attempt to seize government power away from the current Conservatives-led coalition. That likely helped Labour’s integration spokesperson Siri Gåsemyr Staalesen join forces with Vedum, also after two women from an organization that helps imigrant women fight social control and forced marriages sought their help. They fear dual citizenship’s consequences on women whose children have been taken back to their homelands against their will.

“It will nearly be impossible to get their children back if they (the children) have become citizens of the country to which they’ve been taken,” Laial Ayoub of the organization Nok (Enough) told NRK. The government, however, stresses that the children would no longer risk losing their Norwegian citizenship, and denies Vedum’s claims that removing the dual citizenship ban will hurt vulnerable groups.

The dual citizenship issue, which has faced lengthy delays in coming up in Parliament, is currently due to be debated in Parliament sometime in December.

Source: Critics try to block dual citizenship

25 Years Later, Norway Files Charges in Shooting of ‘Satanic Verses’ Publisher

About time:

William Nygaard, publisher of the Norwegian edition of Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses,” was shot three times and left for dead outside his home in a quiet suburb of Oslo on the morning of Oct. 11, 1993.

Twenty-five years later, just two days before a deadline that would have foreclosed prosecution, the Norwegian police have at last filed charges in the shooting of Mr. Nygaard, who recovered from his wounds. And the authorities stated what many people had always taken for granted: that the attack had to do with Mr. Rushdie’s book, which infuriated Muslims around the world — a theory that the police played down a generation ago.

“We have no reason to believe there is any other motive for the attempted killing than the publication of ‘The Satanic Verses,’ ” said Ida Dahl Nilssen, a spokeswoman for Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service. The shooting was about more than an attack on one man, she said, it was a violent attempt to shut down free speech.

But the charges, announced on Tuesday, remain steeped in uncertainty, leaving it unclear how close the authorities really are to holding anyone responsible for one of Norway’s most notorious unsolved crimes. Officials have refused to say publicly what evidence they have or how many people have been charged, or to disclose the suspects’ names, nationalities or current locations.

In 1989, shortly after the book’s initial publication in English, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, declared it offensive to Islam and called on Muslims to kill Mr. Rushdie and anyone involved in publication of the book. But Mr. Nygaard, then the chief of the publishing house Aschehoug, which his family controls, went ahead with publication of a Norwegian-language edition, two months after the ayatollah’s edict.

The Iranian threat, followed by protests and attacks on bookstores in other countries, was not an idle one, and Mr. Rushdie went into hiding for several years.

In 1991, Ettore Capriolo, who had translated the book into Italian, was stabbed in Milan by a man who tried — and failed — to get him to disclose Mr. Rushdie’s location. Mr. Capriolo survived, but days later, Hitoshi Igarashi, the novel’s Japanese translator, was fatally stabbed in Tokyo.

Ayatollah Khomeini died within months of declaring the death sentence. Iran’s government said in 1998 that the threat had been dropped, but religious authorities there have said it still stands, and there is a bounty on Mr. Rushdie’s head.

In the attack on Mr. Nygaard, Norwegian authorities filed charges under a rarely used article of the criminal code, protecting fundamental societal values from attack. Under Norwegian law, if they had not filed by Thursday, they would have been required to drop the case.

“As a consequence of the charges, the investigation may now go on,” Ms. Nilssen said. “We have a strong desire to solve this case.”

On Wednesday, Norwegian news organizations, citing unnamed sources, said there were at least two suspects, one from Iran and the other a former resident of Norway with ties to Lebanon.

In a statement provided by his agent, Mr. Rushdie said: “This is good news, and one can hope that this 25-year-old case will now finally advance.” He has long criticized the investigation, and in his statement, he questioned “why the names and nationalities of the indicted persons have been withheld.”

The announcement also came as a relief to Mr. Nygaard, who is retired from publishing and is the chairman of the Norwegian chapter of PEN, a worldwide association of writers that fights for freedom of expression.

Asked if he regretted publishing “The Satanic Verses,” Mr. Nygaard, now 75, replied with an emphatic “absolutely not.” He did not publish the work, he said, to be provocative, but “to build dialogue,” and if given a choice, he would do it again in the name of freedom of speech.

He shrugged off his own remarkable survival and recovery from the shooting, which included months of hospitalization, calling it a matter of mental and physical vigor.

“I used to be a very good Norwegian ski jumper,” he said. “And quite a good publisher.”

After the attack, the police focused principally on investigating personal motives, rather than wider political or religious ones, according to a 2008 documentary by Odd Isungset, an investigative journalist who also wrote a book about the case.

That documentary reawakened interest in the shooting, and the police reopened the case in 2009.

Knut Olav Amas, a former deputy culture minister who now runs a free speech advocacy group, said it was a major “scandal” that investigators did not pursue the possibility of terrorism and a religious motive.

“The Nygaard investigation itself should be investigated,” Mr. Amas said.

At a 2012 celebration of “Joseph Anton: A Memoir,” Mr. Rushdie’s book about his time living under a death threat, he described decisions like Mr. Nygaard’s to publish the book, as “one of the greatest defenses of free speech of our time.”

Source: 25 Years Later, Norway Files Charges in Shooting of ‘Satanic Verses’ Publisher

Norway’s government wants to allow dual citizenship – The Local

The last hold-out among the Nordics:
Norway’s government is to pave the way towards allowing dual citizenship in the Scandinavian country, with a proposal to be put to parliament this autumn.

The proposal will give new rights to thousands of people with connections to both Norway and a second country.

“We will notify in the state budget that there will be a hearing on the proposal to allow dual citizenship,” immigration minister Sylvi Listhaug told NRK.

For pro-dual citizenship NGO Norwegians Worldwide, which has long campaigned for a law change in the area, the announcement represents a positive change in the government’s position on Norwegians with an international outlook.

“We are extremely happy that the government wants to change an outdated and unfair law that has huge consequences for Norwegian families worldwide. This is a key issue for us and we are delighted on behalf of all those affected by the law against double citizenship,” Norwegians Worldwide general secretary Hanne K. Aaberg said in a press statement.

Donna Fox, co-founder of lobbying group ‘Ja til dobbelt statsborgerskap’ (Yes to dual citizenship) also welcomed the announcement.

“This announcement is fantastic news. After three years of lobbying for the principle of dual citizenship in Norway, Ja til dobbelt statsborgerskap has succeeded in convincing the government to change its outdated mono-citizenship law. Thousands of Norwegian families with connection to two countries, long term permanent Norwegian residents, and future generations will benefit from the right to vote, live and reside without restriction between their countries of citizenship,” Fox told The Local.

Norway is currently the only Nordic country and one of only a small handful of European nations that does not allow dual citizenship, although exceptions to citizenship rules do provide for it in some cases.

Source: Norway’s government wants to allow dual citizenship – The Local

Norway Offers Migrants a Lesson in How to Treat Women – The New York Times

Interesting approach, and a far cry from the former Conservative government’s approach of labelling bills and documents with ‘barbaric cultural practices’ rather than meaningful programming and engagement:

The program he helped design focuses on getting newly arrived refugees to open up about their attitudes toward sex, through discussions in small groups supervised by a monitor, usually a native Norwegian. A manual prepared for the course includes sections on “Norwegian laws and values,” as well as violence against children and women.

A class held on Wednesday in Lunde, a village southwest of Oslo, focused on differing perceptions of “honor” and how violence that might be seen as honorable in some cultures is shameful and also illegal in Norway.

A rival program, developed by a private company called Hero Norge, which runs asylum centers under a contract with the government, also promotes discussion as the best way to expose and break down views that can lead to trouble.

Hero Norge’s teaching material studiously avoids casting migrants in a bad light and instead presents a fictional character called Arne, a native Norwegian, as a model of predatory behavior. The main immigrant character, a 27-year-old called Hassan, is, by contrast, introduced as a “good man” who is “honest and well liked.”

In one episode, Arne, the Norwegian, tells Hassan he plans to ply a young woman with alcoholic drinks “to soften her up.” People taking the course are asked questions such as: “How should Hassan react?” “What do you think Arne means when he says he wants to ‘soften her up?’ ” “Is it O.K. to ‘soften someone up’ with alcohol?”

Berit Harr, a course monitor at a refugee center in Ha, a coastal village south of Stavanger, said it was important to avoid making migrants feel as if they were under suspicion while getting them to talk about their own views on relations between the sexes.

“It is difficult to talk about sex,” she said. But, she added, doing so can help refugees navigate potentially dangerous situations in a strange land.

“It is normal here for boys and girls to be friends,” she said. “Smiling and flirting are normal. It doesn’t mean anything. If a girl is drunk it does not mean she is willing to do anything.”

Source: Norway Offers Migrants a Lesson in How to Treat Women – The New York Times

Terrorists may lose Norwegian citizenship – The Local

Another country considering citizenship revocation in cases of terrorism:

Minister of Children and Equality, Solveig Horne, said to the media: “This is a strong signal to people wanting to take part in terror operations and wars.”

The Norwegian government believes it is important to look at new measures to oppose radical behavior connected to terrorism.

Horne said: “We will turn over every stone to find the necessary measures to prevent radicalization and extremism. We will begin discussion about introducing regulations on revocation for any citizen causing serious damage to vital government interests or who has volunteered to serve in foreign military services.”

Terrorists may lose Norwegian citizenship – The Local.

Breivik: a monster made by multiculturalism – Telegraph Blogs

A different take on multiculturalism and identity politics.

Breivik: a monster made by multiculturalism – Telegraph Blogs.