Norwegian Government Report Highlights Significant Scepticism Toward Islam

In a recent government survey, only 20 percent of Norwegians said that immigration worked very or quite well. Up to 79 percent of Norwegians argued that the challenges of immigration are due to the inadequate efforts of immigrants themselves.

The 2020 Integration Barometer, a survey commissioned by the Norwegian Integration and Diversity Directorate (IMDI), has shown that a significant proportion of the population is sceptical of those who practice Islam.

Wholly 52 percent believe that the values within Islam are incompatible with the basic values of Norwegian society. Fifty-six percent were sceptical about the idea of having a Muslim son-in-law or daughter-in-law, and another 45 percent expressed scepticism about people of the Muslim faith in general.

Even more were sceptical of people with “strong Muslim faith” (70 percent). At the same time, more Norwegians were sceptical of people with “strong Christian faith” (54 percent) than of people with “moderate Muslim faith” (34 percent).

“We thus see that scepticism about religious beliefs is not just about specific religions, but also about how strong the beliefs are perceived”, the report said.

The report also indicated that over 80 percent of Norwegians are sceptical about people wearing the niqab, a full-face garment, regardless of whether it is used on the street, in the workplace, by a school teacher or a police officer in uniform. The attitude toward the hijab, which leaves the face open, by contrast, was more accommodating, as two out of three were either neutral or positive.

The Barometer also revealed that the Norwegian population is divided on the issue of immigration. While more believe that immigration is fairly good for Norway than those who think it is poor (40 percent versus 27 percent), more Norwegians also believe that Norway should accept fewer immigrants rather than increasing immigration (43 percent versus 28 percent). Coincidentally, Norwegians are most in favour of welcoming refugees than other immigrant groups, such as family reunions or economic migrants.

Only 20 percent believe that immigration works very or quite well on the whole, where as wholly 47 percent believe it goes poorly. Between 76 and 79 percent believe that the challenges of immigration are due to the inadequate efforts of immigrants themselves.

Attitudes towards immigration and integration are related to other characteristics of the respondents. For instance, women, young people, and people with higher education are generally more positive about immigration than men, middle-aged and low-educated Norwegians.

The Norwegian population remained highly homogeneous until the late 1970s, with ethnic Norwegians making up 98 percent of the country. As of now, following several decades of mass immigration, the total share of immigrants is approximately 18 percent. Among younger cohorts, the share of immigrants is already above 30 percent.

Today, the largest population groups originating outside Norway are Poles, Swedes, Somalis, Lithuanians, Pakistanis, and Iraqis.