A dark moment for Norway

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From the outside Norway has the image of being a safe place to be, very open to foreigners and scoring very high in the happiness league tables. A lot of this has been confirmed since our arrival here. People have been amazingly friendly, helpfull and generous. Of course after living here for three months now we have had to modify some of our preconceptions a bit. It is clear that this country, like any other has it’s problems. We have personally witnessed the sad lives of the drug-addicts in the park opposite our appartment, all out in the open  for everyone to see. Walking around in Bergen it is clear that a lot of people from across the world see Norway as a better place to live than their “own home-countries”. On the surface this doesn’t seem to cause any problems and in some sense the Norwegians seem to embrace the foreigners (the girl’s language school is a good example of this).

From what we had picked up in the media we were already aware of  an undercurrent of bad feeling towards immigration and multiculturalism, but unfortunately this weekend we have witnessed the very dark side of Norwegian society. I’m personally not convinced this is a problem restricted to Norway. Unfortunately there are voices all over Europe (including the Netherlands and the UK) spouting similar ideas as those that motivated the terrible attacks here on Friday.  Luckily, based on our personal contacts with the Norwegians we have a very positive impression of this society and we feel able to look at the future positively.

I have added a few links to a number of  opinion pieces from the Guardian website. The first is an article by a Norwegian journalist presneting a balanced viewed of what happened here over the past few days, and another article about extremism in Europe in the context of which the current attack should be interpreted. Another article suggests that the internet provides a breeding ground for extremist ideas, partly because a lot of the exchange of ideas is very private and partly because the way information is available on the internet allows people to be very selective in the information people access on which they base there opinions. Food for thought…..

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One Response to “A dark moment for Norway”

  1. Joanne Says:

    We heard about this tragedy when on holiday and our first thoughts were of course with yourselves and the Norwegian people. Awful how some peoples’ minds work.

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