I only met him in person once, many years ago. We met for beers in downtown Oslo. We didn’t agree on everything: among other things, he had an irrational hostility toward the United States, which I put down, in part at least, to the fact that he had never set foot in the U.S. and that his English was surprisingly poor (we spoke in Norwegian), so that his image of my country was shaped largely by the mainstream Scandinavian media and by various sources in his native tongue, Arabic. But never mind. What mattered was that he loved freedom, hated jihadist Islam, and was brave enough to say so. His name was Walid al-Kubaisi. Educated as a civil engineer at the University of Baghdad, he came to Norway as a political refugee in 1981, went on to write several books and many articles about Islam and the West, and died this past July at the age of sixty.
Walid came to Norway at a time when the Muslim population of Norway was tiny and the Norwegian cultural elite was still willing to lend a respectful ear to a severe criticism of Islam by someone who had grown up as an adherent of the faith. Kubaisi was nothing if not critical. He condemned the hijab. He recognized Tariq Ramadan as a two-faced snake who was out to Islamize Europe. He saw through the dissimulations of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2010, after a number of other Norwegians with Muslim backgrounds had begun to make high-profile careers for themselves as politicians and commentators, he warned that despite their images as democracy-loving bridge-builders, several of the most prominent of them were nothing more or less than Trojan horses for jihadism.
Well, Walid is dead now — and those Trojan horses are still alive. And while there don’t seem to be any new Walids on the horizon — the Norwegian media are no longer as open to such voices as they they used to be — there are plenty of new Trojan horses. One of them is a hijab-wearing young woman named Sumaya Jirde Ali. Born in 1997, she came to Norway from Somalia at age six. Two years ago, she stepped onto the national stage with an opinion piece in Aftenposten. She had just been in London, and was impressed by the “diversity” on display there. By contrast, she charged, Norway is way behind.
“During the last few decades Norway has become more multicultural,” she wrote. “Why is it that in 2016, there aren’t more non-ethnic Norwegians in advertisements, movies, magazines, and in government agencies?” She maintained that “for integration to work, it must go both ways. It’s not enough for immigrants to adapt.”