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Norwegian Muslims plan replacement Islamic council

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Norwegian Muslims plan replacement Islamic council
The Rabita Mosque in Oslo. File photo: Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB scanpix
16:28 CEST+02:00
30,000 Norwegian Muslims could change membership to a new umbrella organisation set up to replace the controversy-hit Islamsk Råd Norge (Islamic Council Norway, IRN).

The purpose of the breakaway organisation would be near-identical to that of IRN.

“I see no other option than to set up a new organisation,” Basim Ghozlan, trustee at the Rabita Mosque in Oslo, told Klassekampen.

IRN's employment of niqab-wearing Leyla Hasic as an administrative consultant has sparked extensive debate on the council's role in promoting dialogue between Muslim communities and the rest of Norwegian society.

Both the Bosnian and Albanian mosques in the capital have already announced that they would leave the umbrella of Muslim organisations represented by the council.

The combined membership of the two mosques is 14,000.

Three other mosques – Islamic Cultural Centre and Central Jamaat-e Ahl-e Sunnat, along with the Rabita Mosque - have also begun to withdraw their memberships.

The three represent some of Norway's largest and oldest mosques, according to Klassekampen.

Ghozlan said that he had decided to start an alternative organisation because he felt that IRN in its current form was not fulfilling its mandate.

The trustee said the goals of his organisation would be similar to those stated by IRN.

“On one hand we want to have an ongoing dialogue with general society, fight misunderstandings and prevent distrust. On the other hand we want to strengthen collaboration between Muslim organisations,” he told Klassekampen.

Ghozlan pointed out that he began the process of setting up a new organisation prior to IRN's hiring of Hasic.

IRN general secretary Mehtab Afsar told broadcaster NRK that membership of the organisation was voluntary.

“We cannot force members to stay. If one or two leave, we will still be an umbrella organisation,” he said.

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