Islamism is a foreign element with no rooting in Norwegian culture and is therefore the biggest enemy of Norwegian democracy, Professor Øystein Sørensen maintained in an evening program by national broadcaster NRK.
According to Sørensen, the author of the book "Norwegian Democracy and Its Enemies", Norway's political culture has always been characterised by negotiations and willingness to compromise by both the left and the right. This "laid-back tolerance" marks a stark contrast with Islamism, he argued.
"Islamism, which is a political ideology based on Islam, rather an interpretation of Islam, and certainly not identical to the religion itself, is a line of thought that has no foundation whatsoever in traditional Norwegian political culture. And what we have seen of Islamist groups in Norway, they are not interested in legitimising themselves in the same way that the traditional Norwegian political extremists to the right and left have done before", Sørensen stressed.
Sørensen ventured that the contemporary situation poses a "different kind of challenge", which Norway hasn't faced before. Consequently, the rise of Islamism and its consequences are the biggest threat against Norwegian democracy, despite its ability to work well as a reliable buffer against all sorts of extremism, he argued.
"Islamism on the one hand and various types of militant so-called counter-jihadists on the other hand", he said, answering the host's question. "It could get pretty grim eventually", Sørensen concluded.
Earlier in February, an annual report by the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) identified Islamist extremists as the single largest threat against Norway. However, the media's attention was drawn to a subsequent report by the Norwegian Intelligence Service (E-Tjenensten) that focused on the espionage threat allegedly posed by China and Russia, which somewhat overshadowed PST's report.
Journalist Helge Lurås of the Resett website called Sørensen's "unambiguous statements" about Islamism in Norway unusual in an academic context. However, Lurås ascribed this to the fact that Sørensen is 64 years old and does not have a long academic career in front of him to worry about.
Øystein Sørensen, 64, is a Norwegian historian of ideas and a professor at the University of Oslo. He has authored many books on Norwegian nationalism and national identity, as well as National Socialism, the history of World War II and totalitarian ideologies. His most recent work, "Norwegian Democracy and Its Enemies", was released in 2018.