General Secretary, Mehtab Afsar, of the Islamic Council (IRN) dismissed the criticism from the Norwegian Church after employing a woman who wears a nikab.

‘Our cooperation and dialogue are much stronger than this, and will not be destroyed due to an employment granted in the IRN.

The IRN and Intermediate Council have been dialogue partners for almost 25 years, and will be in the future too. In addition, this employment is in line with laws and regulations in this country,’ said Afsar in an email about criticism from the church to Vårt Land.

‘The employment creates noise,’ said Berit Hagen Agøy, of the Intercultural Council to Klassekampen newspaper on Thursday. This was the first time the Norwegian Church had publicly criticized the Islamic Council.

The ‘Tros og Livssynssamfunn’ (STL) also took up the issue of the appointment at its meeting this week. Lars-Petter Helgestad of the Human-Ethical Association was the chairman of the meeting.

‘It seems that the IRN does not see how much damage to their reputation has been done. The strong symbolic value of the nikab causes people to wonder about the IRN’s position in the work against religious extremism. The only one’s served by this polarization are Muslim extremists, and those who hate Islam, and it hurts the dialogue’, said Helgestad to Vårt Land.

The Islamic Council met with the Minister of Culture, Linda Hofstad Helleland, (Høyre) on the 4th of April, but want a new meeting.

In a letter sent by the IRN’s lawyer to the Minister of Culture, they expressed ‘disappointment and amazement about the form of the meeting and the short period of time set aside for it’. In the letter, the IRN promised to send a written statement about, inter alia, their bridge-building role.

Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today

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