Published: 11 Jul 2012 12:25 GMT+02:00 | Print version
Updated: 11 Jul 2012 12:25 GMT+02:00
Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang wants to ban begging in the Norwegian capital amid a controversy over the erection this week of a temporary Roma camp outside a city church.
Claiming they are being harassed by Oslo police, some 200 Roma people set up camp on Monday at the city’s Sofienberg church.
“We’re naive if we facilitate begging in Oslo,” the Conservative Party mayor told broadcaster NRK.
By permitting begging, the city was in effect luring people to Norway instead of helping them to improve their lives in their home countries, the mayor said.
A naive display of “good intentions” was the worst possible way of dealing with the problems associated with begging, he added.
“A ban on begging is the best solution for everybody,” he said, as he called on parliament to legislate against the practice.
Agreeing with the mayor, city councillor Mazyar Keshvari from the right-wing populist Progress Party called on his own party to present a new legislative proposal.
“These people have no business being here, they should have been thrown out of Sofienberg church and thrown out of Norway,” he told TV 2.
“We can’t have a situation whereby Norway and Oslo serve as the world’s social welfare office.”
Keshvari said it was “high time to introduce a begging ban to get rid of the criminality that comes here as a result of begging operations.”
He also said the city should not offer basic sanitation facilities that would make it “more attractive and comfortable for them to come here.”
Arguing strongly against a ban, Ingvild Reymert of the Socialist Left Party said Oslo would be better advised to follow the example of Trondheim, which has agreed to offer basic amenities.
“It’s just silly to think more people will come if we provide for basic needs such as a shower, a toilet and the like,” she said.
“Banning begging doesn’t remove any problems; it will just make the situation worse for those who are already forced to do it,” the councillor added.