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Norway's integration minister: We can't be like Sweden

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Norway's integration minister: We can't be like Sweden
Listhaug said that the problem of 'parallel societies' can be found in places like Groruddalen in Oslo. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / Scanpix
17:01 CEST+02:00
A tight immigration policy and tougher requirements for those who come to Norway are important tools for avoiding radicalisation and parallel societies, Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug said on Wednesday.
“Many of those who have carried out terror attacks in Europe are born and raised in France and Belgium. It shows how important it is to succeed with integration and that is again connected to how many come to Norway. Therefore a tight immigration policy is important,” she said. 
 
Listhaug’s package of asylum and immigration reforms is due before parliament shortly. 
 
Not like Sweden
In the aftermath of the terror attacks in Brussels there has been a debate on so-called parallel societies and neighbourhoods where the police don’t dare to patrol. 
 
The Progress Party’s immigration spokesman Mazyar Keshvari told Klassekampen on Sunday that parallel societies also exist in Norway, pointed to Groruddalen and Søndre Nordstrand in Oslo. 
 
Listhaug acknowledged that the problem exists.
 
“It is obvious that we do have problems, one needs only look at the social statistics,” Listhaug told NTB. 
 
“We have foreign fighters who have left Norway and [we have] radical environments. We should not stick our heads in the sand and say that everything is good here. But fortunately we are a long way from the conditions we see in some other countries, for example Sweden,” she said. 
 
She said that a major reason that Norway doesn’t have the same ghetto problems as Sweden is that refugees and asylum seekers in Norway cannot decide for themselves where they should live. 
 
Biometrics
Listhaug said that the terror attack in Brussels has created fears and worries that an attack could also hit Norway. But she also stressed that Islamists where not responsible for the terror that stuck the nation in 2011. 
 
“That goes to show that one can be blinded by the illusion that only Islamists carry out terror. But [intelligence agency] PST’s threat assessment for 2016 states that extreme Islamists present the greatest terror and that is something we have to deal with,” the integration minister said. 
 
Among Listhaug’s proposals is to expand the ability of law enforcement agencies to acquire and store biometric information such as fingerprints. She said that it is important to have control over who is in Norway and that PST needs to determine whether asylum applicants present a security threat. 
 
Must 'make demands'
Listhaug’s proposals were sent to parliamentary hearing at the beginning of the year. Many of them have been criticised for preventing – whether than promoting – integration. 
 
Critics have referred to specific proposals, such as the plan to make it more difficult for refugees to bring their family members to Norway, but have also said that the sum of the proposals will make it more difficult for refugees to get a foothold in Norway and a sense of belonging. 
 
“I am focused on making some demands of those who come to Norway. For example, it is important that those who will bring family members here can provide for them. That is an important principle,” Listhaug said. 
 
She said ensuring better integration ‘requires a special effort”. 
 
“It's not like we can make plans and then everything will just fall in place, or that there is a "quick fix," she said.
 
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