eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà


  • December 2021 : European Court of Human Rights delivers verdict in case against Norway

In Abdi Ibrahim v. Norway, a Somali national who was granted refugee status in Norway in 2010 lost custody of her son, who was placed in the care of a Christian family, against her wishes that he be placed with her family or a Somali or Muslim family. She was granted limited visiting rights. In 2013, the family applied to adopt the child, a process that would end the mother’s visiting rights, and lead to the baptism and change of name for the child. The applicant appealed, not in order to retain custody, but in order to maintain visiting rights so the child could retain his cultural and religious roots. She lost her case in the High Court, and the Supreme Court would not take her case. The European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that Norwegian authorities had violated articles 8 (private life) and 9 (religious freedom) by failing to take into account the interests of the applicant in maintaining the religious and cultural roots of her child.

  • July 2021 : Proposal to ban conversion therapy

Following media reports about the practices in Christian groups offering therapy for homosexuals to be “converted” to heterosexuals, the government sent a proposal to ban such therapy on a hearing. The proposal would ban such “therapy” directed at children under the age of 16, and was criticized for not going far enough. The proposal is still pending (2022).

  • June 2021 : Supreme Court decides first asylum conversion case

On the 3rd of June, the Norwegian Supreme Court announced its decision in a case concerning an Afghan family who applied for asylum because their alleged conversion to Christianity would put them at risk upon return to Afghanistan. Similar cases have been decided in lower courts for more than a decade, but this was the first case to reach the Supreme Court. The applicants lost the case, as a majority (3-2) did not find their conversion credible. The verdict clarified the weight to be attributed to priests as witnesses – such witnesses should be given particular weight because of their “qualifications in religion”, but their potentially vested interests in the case would also have to be part of the assessment.

  • March 2021 : Conservative Muslim organization buys real estate

The conservative Muslim organisation IslamNet, which has previously been in the media spotlight for inviting conservative preachers to their “peace conferences” and for condoning stoning of homosexuals, bought a large property on the outskirts of Oslo in early 2021, for the establishment of a community centre and mosque. When the transaction was reported in local media, several politicians from across the political spectrum called for ways in which to stop the sale, citing concerns for radicalisation. The sale went through as planned.

  • January 2021 : New law on faith communities

The new law on faith communities entered into force on the 1st of January 2021, following a lengthy drafting process. The new law introduced more rigorous requirements for faith communities to be eligible for financial support. It also significantly expanded the authority of the county governors overseeing the support system to conduct inquiries and probes into potential violations of the new law.

  • January 2021 : Withdrawal of state support to Jehova’s Witnesses

Following an investigation initiated by the Ministry of Children and Families after allegations of exclusion practices that may violate children’s rights, the county governor in Oslo and Viken withdrew financial support to Jehova’s Witnesses. In February, the county governor also announced that the violations of the new law may be so egregious, long-lasting and systematic that registration may also be withdrawn, depriving Jehova’s Witnesses of legal recognition as a faith community under Norwegian law.

  • January 2021 : Schools refuse students from Christian college

Several schools in Oslo refused to accept for internships students teachers from NLA, a conservative Christian college, because the college is run according to the principles in a “values platform” that does not accept matrimonial norms that deviate from the Bible. The refusal led to a heated media debate about religious freedom, but local authorities refused to instruct the schools to accept students from NLA.

D 31 décembre 2021    AHelge Årsheim

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