Hagen halts Muslim prayer at Oslo school

An Oslo high school has been told by the city officials to close a Muslim prayer room following criticism from Carl I. Hagen, a city councillor for the right-wing populist Progress Party.

Hagen halts Muslim prayer at Oslo school
Photo: Flickr; Wikimedia (file)
"I have told the school via the education director that it is not acceptable to establish a separate prayer room in an Oslo school," Torger Ødegaard of the Oslo schools council has explained, according to a report by state broadcaster NRK.
"School is an institution for education and not a religious institution," he said.
Hellerud high school in Oslo became the first school in Norway to establish a Muslim prayer room and the move was roundly criticised by Carl I. Hagen, former head of the right-wing populist Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) and currently a representative on the city council.
Hagen is reported to have threatened to jeopardise budget negotiations if the city's education authorities did not act on the issue.
According to NRK, Ødegaard was initially dismissive of Hagen's complaints, explaining that it is not the job of the council to interfere in the daily business of the city's schools, but ultimately bowed to the pressure.
Hellerud high school's principal Tora Morstad explained however that the room is not a "prayer room", but a quiet room where pupils can go to pray and was established so that they would not have to go down to the cellar.
Morstad however told NRK that the school plans to fall in line with the council's decision and prayers in school premises will be discontinued.

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Leader of Norwegian populist party to step down

Siv Jensen, the former finance minister and leader of the anti-immigration Progress Party, has announced she is to leave the role and quit parliament.

Leader of Norwegian populist party to step down
Siv Jensen. File photo: AFP

“I have today informed the nomination committee in the Oslo Progress Party that I do not wish to be re-elected to parliament,” she said at a press conference at the Storting parliament.

“As such, I have also notified the party’s election committee that this, naturally, means the party must select a new leader at its national conference in May,” she continued.

Norway is scheduled to hold general elections later this year.

“It has not been easy to take this choice. But I am completely convinced that it is the right choice for both the party and me,” she said.

Jensen has already given her blessing to Sylvi Listhaug, the hardline former immigration and integration, and later justice minister, as her successor. Listhaug is the current deputy leader of the right-wing party.

The outgoing leader also backed Ketil Solvik-Olsen, a former second deputy leader, as the next deputy leader.

“They are to outstanding politicians who dare to be innovative, clear, take on debates and challenge the existing truths,” Jensen said.

The former minister has been a member of parliament since 1997 and took over as Progress Party leader from Carl I. Hagen in 2006.

She was finance minister from 2013 until January 2020, when the Progress Party withdrew from the governing coalition.

Jensen said her party’s recent sluggish poll ratings were not rated to her decision to step back from politics.

“I have, in all my time as party leader, said that it is a job and lifestyle which demands 120 percent, 24 hours a day all year round,” she also said.