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Over-control can lead to radicalization

The government's target figures for the expulsion of illegal immigrants in Norway have led to more and more extensive immigration checks – also by Norwegian citizens. Now, many fear that the controls may lead to increased radicalization among youth. 


Several Norwegian organizations report an increase in the number of inquiries from people who are subjected to frequent and unpleasant foreign checks on the street in Oslo. One of them is Jonathan Arevalo from Colombia. He was on his way from his apartment in Greenland in Oslo towards Oslo Central Station when two civilian-dressed policemen stopped him and asked him to show his passport.
"Since I do not speak English, I did not understand what they were saying. But I asked them to identify themselves, because I understood that they were police. In Colombia, we are used to the police being able to act hostilely, so I took a slightly defensive stance. They asked me to show identification and passport, but I did not bring it – I had been told that it was not necessary to bring identity papers around, "Arevalo tells Ny Tid when we meet him and three of his friends in a cafe in Oslo. "Then the police followed me home, at the same time as they asked questions about when I should return and whether I had a return ticket. When we arrived at the apartment, they joined us. I showed my passport and was asked to show a return ticket, "says Arevalo. From August to November this year, he and his friends were on an exchange in Norway with the Latin American groups (LAG) from Colombia.
After the check, Arevalo eventually reached the Railway Square to meet friends from the exchange environment. As they were talking and discussing what had happened, a woman and a man in civilian clothes came over to them. These too turned out to be from the police.
"We speak neither Norwegian nor English, and did not understand what they were saying. One person in the group spoke a little Norwegian and found out that they wanted to see our passports. We did not include them. We remained standing for 30 minutes trying to explain ourselves. Finally came a third civilian clerk, who suggested that everyone go home to each of us to check the documents, ”Arevalo says. "It all felt very strange. The tour of the police car took about an hour and a half. The worst thing was that they kept our documents until we had finished the whole program. It was stressful and frustrating – they took pictures of the documents and sent them back and forth. We didn't understand what was happening, ”says Arevalo, who experienced the incident as very unpleasant.
He is surprised by the way they were treated, and tells Ny Tid that he sees this as an expression of double standards.
“I think this says something about the attitude of Norwegian police. We were met with racism. We have talked a lot about Norway being a peace nation, a country that wants to make peace in the world. But the attitude we met with the police in no way reflected these values. We didn't know what we were accused of or why we had to sit there, ”Arevalo says.
Have you experienced such things before?
"No, but we have seen and noticed that the police are in the street scene on this type of mission. On Thursday last week there were uniformed and armed police in Greenland. The Colombian police have small firearms – the ones we saw here had big guns. The escalation is probably due to the increased influx of refugees from Syria, that many immigrants are coming to Norway at once, ”Arevalo believes.
He says that he will now think twice before visiting Norway again.
"The police in Colombia also discriminate on the basis of poverty or other things. But being discriminated against skin color? I have never experienced this before, ”Arevalo says.

More controls. Being stopped by foreigner checks by the police is far from something that only affects tourists. The head of the Organization against Public Discrimination (OMOD), Akhenaton Oddvar de Leon, knows of countless examples of Norwegians with dark complexion who are regularly stopped in control. The worst thing is if you live or travel in the wrong place. Since OMOD does not accept formal complaints, de Leon does not have any specific figures to point to, but he believes to see an increase in the number of people being checked. "The worst thing is that you have no proof of what you say, there are usually two or three policemen who arrest you alone, and control is often not registered. Often, the controls are also done in a way that is rude and humiliating to the person being controlled, ”says de Leon. He believes the increase may be linked to the Government's target figure of 7800 expulsions of illegal immigrants in Norway by the end of 2015. In October, the head of the Police Joint Confederation Sigve Bolstad stated that "the targets are so high that it controls the entire business, leading to the targets being more important than the police professional judgments ”.
Ny Tid has spoken to several people who live in Norway and are regularly subjected to discharge checks by the police on the street. However, no one has wanted to come forward with their stories. De Leon knows of several examples where the environment opposes that the person who feels exposed to racism should complain.

"The experiences many Norwegian youth with dark skin have cannot and cannot be ignored as they are now."

Radicalization. De Leon himself has experienced being stopped by the police on several occasions. “I was one of several who started OMOD because of these controls. Once when I was staying at Tøyen and was stopped, I brought out my university ID and told them that I was called Oddvar – and was taken to the police station. I also remember that frequent checks were made when I was young. The fact that people are stopped on the street is by no means news – the media has written a lot about this in the past. What is the difference now is that we have a government minister who maximizes a crisis and hurries the role of the police. It's a problem, ”de Leon says.
“There is a great deal of radicalization potential in the police control business. The police must act professionally, legitimize and explain to people why they are being stopped. We have taken up with the Storting that we want a scheme where you get a receipt when you are checked, so that the person who is stopped can show the receipt if he or she is stopped again.

Racism is sweeping. Thomas Prestø is the founder and leader of the dance group Tabanka Ensemble, and in the years 2005-2007 he was also the leader of the organization African Youth in Norway (AYIN). Prestø has been involved in work with youth and against racism for almost 20 years, and knows of several examples of young people of Norwegian background and dark complexion who are constantly stopped by the police in foreign checks. He himself has experienced being stopped both in knife checks in Greenland, in foreign checks at the airport and in the evenings at Majorstuen. "Being over-controlled and asked if you belong here by armed police in uniform can certainly contribute to a sense of alienation," says Prestø.
This fall, the Tabanka Ensemble has performed the dance performance Rhythm, Roots & Revolution for 4000 secondary school pupils in Norway. The performance addresses racism, discrimination, identity, belonging, heritage and hope. In this connection, Prestø and the other members of the ensemble have received several inquiries from young people who are experienced in racism.
“A lot of what's left is frustration over the system – that those who experience such things are not taken seriously.
He says that the ways people experience racism have been stable in recent years, but that the content of racism has changed.
"The new thing we have seen in the years following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is the combination of Islam scorn and racism. Cultural racism itself is nothing new – racism has always also involved attacks on the culture and religion of those affected, and not just skin color. But the Islamic contempt has increased. Today, for example, we see that both Christian Nigerians and Ghanaians who previously only experienced Afro-contempt are now experiencing Islamic disdain as well. For many, being dark in the skin has meant being a Muslim, which is clearly reflected in the comment fields on the web. It is also reflected in the experiences of young Africans who have come into the media. It is clear that we as a society do not quite know how to relate to a Muslim with blue eyes and blonde hair. Being dark has somehow become an 'Islamic look'. We also feel that there has been more racism since July 22, 2011. We talk a lot with young people who are dark in the skin about these experiences, ”says Prestø.
He fears that downgrading work against racism could lead to more young people being recruited into radical and violent movements.
“I have worked with several young people who have been radicalized in the violent direction. In 2005, when Erna Solberg was municipal minister, we were in AYIN among the first to address this problem. We observed that youth were radicalized into violent environments because we as a society are too poor to deal with issues of identity, belonging and racism. Then we were told that we were exaggerating, ”says Prestø. "It is scary that politicians do not realize that there is racism in Norway. There has been an increase in hate crimes and hate speech that has reached the media. The Twitter campaign with the subject guy 'Norwegianism' also revealed an avalanche of testimonies. Nevertheless, we see little or no focus on this. Taking countries such as England and France as an example, we see that the experience of not being heard, not having a voice, has contributed to the polarized conditions there. A sense of insecurity in youth forms the basis for 'gangs', as a survival strategy for feeling safe. All youth, including minority youth, must be given the opportunity to build a sustainable identity. It is a fad for Prestø, which calls for concrete cooperation across various ministries.
“In practice, a sustainable identity means that the way you experience and see yourself is the way you are want to be seen, and the way you are experience to be seen, to a large extent coincides. Let's take a fictitious, Somali boy: If he wants to see himself as a resource for Norwegian society – to what extent does he experience being seen as this? Where does he get feedback that he is a resource to society? This is very relevant, because a fragile identity experience is one of the reasons why youth can be vulnerable to radicalization, ”concludes Prestø.

No to receipt system. Ny Tid has been in contact with the Ministry of Justice, which states that it is not relevant to establish a receipt scheme for immigration controls. When asked whether the number of immigration checks has increased in 2015, Andreas Bondevik, communications adviser at the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness, answers: “The Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness has asked the police to intensify personal checks in border areas. This will provide a better overview and control over who is staying in the country. Intensified territorial control of people in border areas was primarily introduced to have a better overview and control over who comes to the country. However, we do not rule out that this may have meant that it has been revealed that persons without legal residence have resided in the country, and thus ensured the export of these – which in turn contributes to reaching the target figure, "says Bondevik.

Carima Tirillsdottir Heinesen
Carima Tirillsdottir Heinesen
Former journalist for MODERN TIMES.

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