Police in Oslo have held talks with returning youngsters because of radicalization concerns over their stay at Quran schools abroad. Previously, youths with Somali backgrounds reported the widespread use of violence and abuse, including lashings and other methods of torture, they experienced during their educational trips to their "home country."
Somali-Norwegian "Omar" told national broadcaster NRK about a school in Mogadishu, Somalia, where he, in addition to extensive violence, was subjected to brainwashing in an Islamist direction. Among other things, he told of an evening prayer they had to repeat every night.
"Let the West burn. Let it go to hell. Let God take the money from the West and give it to us," "Omar" recalled.
After numerous reports on the harsh conditions that Norwegian youth are exposed to inside the Quran schools in Somalia, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security asked the Norwegian police to present an overview of the situation. The Police Directorate summarized their findings in a report, which among other things, addressed the risk of radicalization.
"When you have schools where students are deprived of mobile phones and passports, as well as contact with the outside world, I think it's much easier to involve these young people in the radicalization process," Janne Birgitta Stømner of the new prevention unit at the Oslo police told NRK. "We have held some clarification talks with young people who have returned to check whether they have been radicalized," she added.
"For those who have been sent away because they have committed a crime, there has been no positive effect, at least judging by the few examples we have seen. Our experience is that they continue on the criminal path when they return home, they strive after the environment they knew from before," Janne Birgitta Stømner said.
Researcher and sociologist Inger Marie Holm of the University of Tromsø, who wrote a doctoral thesis on Somalis in Norway, argued that many Somali parents share the opinion that there is too little discipline in Norwegian schools, which they claim to undermine kids' respect for both teachers and relatives.
"It may seem that parents sending their kids abroad are desperate. It also seems that they are not fully informed about the schools' ways and proceedings," Inger Marie Holm told NRK.
Poster desse skjermbileta i lag for ingen spesiell grunn. pic.twitter.com/rS1MZ9Qv94— Sofie Klemetzen (@sofieklemetzen) November 9, 2017
So far, however, only three youths have undergone preemptive interviews, and the police decided not to carry on with their cases.
The brutal pedagogical habits of the Somali Quran schools previously triggered national concern in Norway, with Prime Minister Erna Solberg arguing it was illegal for the parents to subject their offspring to this sort of treatment.
Children's Ombudsperson Anne Lindboe argued that it was "no surprise" that children are being sent to schools abroad, where physical and psychological violence is not uncommon, calling for tighter measures, including revoking at-risk children's passports.
Norway is home to over 40,000 Somalis, who constitute one of the largest population groups of non-European origin in the Nordic country of 5.2 million.