07:27 GMT29 March 2020
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    The Norwegian government is poised to deprive so-called "foreign warriors," who are in effect militant jihadists who traveled to the Middle East to support violent Islamism, of their citizenship. If implemented, this proposal may put the Nordic country in the same league as the UK or Denmark, which currently practice such measures.

    The Norwegian government considers returning jihadists a national threat and hopes to withdraw their Norwegian citizenship to stop recruitment and prevent future enlistment. According to estimates by the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), at least 90 people left Norway to fight alongside fellow terrorists in Syria or Iraq. About 20 were reported killed and 30 returned to Norway, while the rest are believed to be continuing the fight in Syria and Iraq, Norwegian broadcaster NRK reported.

    Once again, Norwegian Immigration and Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug, who is renowned for her hardline stance on asylum issues, is the driving force behind the proposal.

    "This is a concern that PST also expressed before. We expect that people who have received training, participated in hostilities and committed war cries may bring their knowledge, ability and willingness to perform this type of operations here, to Norway."

    According to Listhaug, participants in hostilities may have "crossed the line" by killing other people or been involved in other dramatic things, which must always be taken into account upon their return.

    In addition to people convicted under Norwegian law, the Justice Ministry intends to deprive criminals of their passports if national interests are threatened. The government believes that it may have a deterrent effect on future recruitments. Citizenship withdrawal is therefore viewed as a precautionary measure rather than a punishment. The amendment, however, shall only apply to persons with dual citizenship, as people cannot be made stateless according to international conventions.

    Unsurprisingly, this proposal has already spurred an outrage. What is remarkable is that the criticism has come from terror researchers circles, who must be in know.

    "It would only provide [the police] with too much authority. The decisions would be based on classified information, which is unbecoming to a constitutional state. Once you utter the word 'terror,' all legal safeguards will be put aside. This is a sinister tendency," Lars Gule, a social commentator and associate professor at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences and former Secretary General of the Norwegian Humanist Association, told NRK.

    The proposed changes to the Citizenship Act will put Norway in the same league as the UK and Denmark, which both practice confiscating passports from militant jihadists.

    However, there is always a chance that the law might be used somewhat indiscriminately. Previously, even Danish citizens fighting against Daesh alongside Kurdish Peshmerga forces had their passports confiscated in the crackdown on "foreign fighters." The most notorious examples of penalizing people who fought on the same side as Denmark did are Martin (surname undisclosed), a 32-year old native of Esbjerg, who in 2015 joined the anti-Daesh fight in Iraq, and Joanna Palani, a 23-year-old Danish-Kurdish woman who was imprisoned, stripped of her visa and banned from international travel for 12 months for breaking the "foreign fighter rule."

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    jihadism, terrorism threat, NRK, Sylvi Listhaug, Joanna Palani, United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway
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