A YOUNG, WHITE Norwegian citizen has been charged with murder in the aftermath of a shooting incident at the Al-Noor Islamic Centre in the town of Baerum, on the outskirts of the capital, Oslo.
No one was killed when the man walked into the Mosque armed with two shotguns and a handgun – and started shooting. The Mosque had put extra security measures in place after the Mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this year. Questions are now being asked about whether the measures they took were enough – and whether other Mosques, worldwide, are prepared for any local threats.
There were only three people in the Mosque at the time. One of them, Mohammad Rafiq, 65, a retired officer of the Pakistani Air Force, managed to overpower the attacker, sustaining minor injuries as he did so.
The attacker was then arrested and later charged with attempted murder. It is understood that he is not co-operating with police who are investigating the attack.
There were reports that the attacker was a local man who did not have a criminal record but was known to the authorities for having extreme right wing and anti-immigrant views. It is thought that the gunman had posted online praising the Christchurch Mosque Massacre.
It was also alleged that he had expressed sympathy for Vidkun Quisling, who led the Norwegian Government which collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.
However, as police investigated their suspect, they found his 17 year old stepsister in another location – dead. It is this death which has led to the charge of murder.
In Norway, questions are being asked about how the gunman managed to get hold of the weapons he used. People who want to own a gun are usually required to convince police that they are suitable – which is worrying if it turns out that the gunman was a known extremist.
Irfan Mushtaq, the Director of the Mosque, has called for the Government to take action. He has pointed out that the talk of terrorist attacks in Norway usually portrays Muslims as potential terrorists – but in Norway, it has been extreme right wingers who have carried out the last two big terrorist attacks on defenceless civilians.
The Islamic Council of Norway has also warned that Islamophobia has gone largely unchecked in Norway and must be challenged if Muslims are to feel safe.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has tweeted that Islamophobia must be fought in Norway. Muslims living in the country are probably hoping for stronger action than a sympathetic tweet.