Norwegians of Pakistani descent

Norwegians of Pakistani descent

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Norwegians of Pakistani descent

poptime = 29,134 legal residents
0.8% of the Norwegian population
popplace = Oslo
langs = Norwegian
Languages of Pakistan
rels = Islam
related = Overseas Pakistani

Approximately 29,134 [ [ Statistics Norway] ] Norwegians are of Pakistani descent, making Pakistanis one of Norway's largest ethnic minority groups.

Immigration to Norway

Most Pakistanis arrived in Norway as guest workers during the 1970s, under Norway's then-liberal immigration scheme which allowed for unskilled "guest workers" to temporarily settle in Norway [] . Most of these immigrants were young men that came from areas surrounding the town of Kharian, in Pakistan's Punjab province, though later waves included a high number of workers from the area around Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city [] . The law was later amended to allow for already arrived guest workers to permanently settle in Norway. Following stricter immigration laws passed in 1976, Pakistan immigration to Norway shifted from the arrival of new immigrants, to family reunifications, in which Norwegian Pakistanis could apply for their close relatives and/or spouses to immigrate to Norway.

Integration into Norwegian Culture

Most of the Pakistani Norwegian population are Norwegian citizens, and are relatively well assimilated into Norwegian life and culture. Older immigrants born in Pakistan often retain their traditional Pakistani views and dress, but still are well-adjusted to life in Norway. Second generation immigrants who were born in Norway tend to be completely Norwegian in attitudes and practice, with one young woman, Shabana Rehman, even becoming a popular stand-up comedian [] . Other Pakistanis in Norway have gone on to become professionals, and politicians, including Mah-Rukh Ali, the first Pakistani news anchor for Norway's state broadcasting network, the NRK.

Due to the large number of immigrants from Pakistan, Pakistani immigrants (and their children) have also been able to retain much of their Pakistani cultural heritage. Children of Pakistani immigrants tend to be fluent in at least one Pakistani language (normally Punjabi or Urdu), alongside a native fluency in Norwegian [] .

Issues of complete assimilation do come up, possibly because Pakistani children are often enrolled in ethnically mixed schools with other Pakistanis, and so the children are unable to be fully be assimilated in Norwegian society as they are not exclusively surrounded by Norwegian children [] . Some Norwegian social anthropoligists, however, think that the real cause for difficulty in assimilation is due to discrimination from ethnic Norwegians [] . Pakistani-Norwegian elders assert that this is inevitable, and that these differences will simply be rectified with coming generations of Pakistani-Norwegian children [] .

Children of Pakistani immigrants sometimes struggle when trying to be loyal to both their family's traditional Islamic culture and the one of liberal Scandinavia, although there is a strong tendency to favor local traditions over Pakistani ones, or even combining the two into a sort of creole culture. Second generation immigrants are often told that they are different from Norwegian students, although they feel at home only in Norway, while at home they may also be pressured by their parents to not become "too Norwegian." []

Arranged marriages and sexual orientation among the Pakistani Norwegians are frequently debated in the Norwegian media. The Norwegian parliament (Stortinget) has in recent years enforced restrictions on family reunification, and has tried to ban arranged marriages to ensure that all Pakistani Norwegians are guaranteed the right to make their own decisions and freedom regarding their personal life. The Norwegian embassy in Pakistan has in recent years worked on disappearances of Norwegian citizens, which are often the result of forced marriages and alleged "honour murders." It continues to be rare for children of Pakistani immigrants in Norway marry ethnic Norwegians, though this is also the result of the attitudes of ethnic NorwegiansWho|date=September 2008, who are often antagonistic towards marriage with non-NorwegiansFact|date=September 2008.

In spite of the aforementioned issues, the Pakistani community as a whole is generally considered to be well-assimilated into Norwegian culture. Pakistanis in Norway attribute their successful integration into Norwegian culture to their practice of not isolating themselves from native Norwegians [] . Riffat Bashir, Imam of Oslo's largest mosque often invites Norwegian church leaders and non-Muslim citizens to his mosque in order to partake in inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue [] . Imran Shaid, a Pakistani of Norwegian descent told the BBC of his Oslo neighborhood, Grønland:

"I've seen other European cities and Groenland is something different. It's not a ghetto, it's a multicultural place where the Norwegian ethnicity is represented."

Discrimination Against Pakistani Immigrants

Norway is by and large a tolerant community which respects the rights of immigrants. As with most other Northern Europeans countries though, Norway occasionally has issues with the anti-immigrant far-right, who sometimes clamor for a 'make Norway white again' campaign [] . Thomas Hylland Eriksen, a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, believes that racism is a serious problem facing immigrants as there is thorough documentation that Pakistani immigrants have faced hardships applying for jobs and housing that white Norwegians otherwise would not [] . He goes on to assert:

It is also on record that the police treat people differently on the basis of their appearance. Those who do not look like Norwegians risk being stopped on the street and asked for proof of identity. A similar situation would never occur in the case of a pale-skinned immigrant from Germany, for example. []

In regards to language issues, the Norwegian government allows for young children to be instructed in a variety of languages, including Urdu and Punjabi, in addition to other languages such as Somali and Farsi [] . No similar instruction exists for older pupils. The Norwegian government now provides 200 hours of language instruction, free of cost, to all immigrants arriving in Norway, with the option to continue with several hundred more hours of free language instruction.

Norway's Pakistani and Muslims communities also face discrimination in regards to mosque construction, as there are often strong protests from Norwegians against mosque construction. Local Muslims in the town of Drammen have had their request for permission to build a mosque repeatedly turned down since 1975, although Oslo granted permission to build an Arab style mosque in the city [] . However, attitude may be changing, as Oslo recently allowed a mosque to announce the Muslim call to Friday prayer over a loudspeaker, in line with regulations regarding church bells [] . A Norwegian atheist group, the Norwegian Heathen Society, was also granted permission to announce on a loudspeaker "there is no God" in the same case [] .

Norwegians passport holders of Pakistani decent visiting other countries sometimes complain of obstacles which ethnic Norwegians do not face. Fact|date=June 2007 Such feelings may instill a belief in some Norwegians of Pakistani decentWho|date=September 2008 that they are not truly Norwegian - though blame is attribute to other countries, and not to Norway or ethnic Norwegians. Issues of "Norwegianess" are also brought up by far-right activists who also oppose non-White immigration to Norway, and feel that the 29,000 Pakistanis in Norway in some way pose a grave threat to Norway's native cultureFact|date=September 2008.

Living in Norway

Norwegians of Pakistan decent are found mainly in Oslo and Bergen, with a particularly strong presence in Oslo's trendy Grønland neighborhood. Dubbed by locals as "Little Karachi," or "Little Pakistan," this neighborhood is known for its lively street culture, galleries, cafes, ethnic eateries, and fashionable stores [] [] . The neighborhood has experienced a renaissance lately as ethnic Norwegians, attracted by the lively and multi-cultural atmosphere, have moved into the neighborhood, transforming it from a working class area into one of Oslo's most desirable addresses, in which new high rises are constantly being built. Recent immigrants from Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka have also moved into the neighborhood because the established Pakistani stores and restaurants provides these other South Asians with a familiar culture and many common traditions, despite political differences in their home countries [] . In spite of gentrification, the Pakistani residents and businesses have not been "priced out" of the neighborhood, as is often a consequence of gentrification.

Pakistanis and Norwegian Politics

Pakistan's Norwegian community does not vote as a bloc for any particular party in Norway. Rather, there is a diversity of political beliefs, demonstrated by Pakistani support for a varety of parties. Many Pakistani politicians have also been successful in their political campaigns, such as Akhtar Chaudhry, a Member of the current Stortinget (Norway's Parliament) for the Sosialistisk Venstreparti ("Socialist Left Party") who immigrated to Norway from Pakistan in 1982 and was the former head of the Pakistan Norwegian Welfare Organization. He is one of only two ethnic minority politicians in the Stortinget, along with the Bengali MP Saera Khan of the Labor Party.

Afshan Rafiq was a former member of the Stortinget for the Høyre (Conservative Party of Norway) until 2005 when she was not re-elected to her post. She still remains a Deputy Representative for the party. There are numerous other Pakistani immigrants on various county, and city councils throughout Norway.

In 2005, Danny Ghazanfar, a politician of mixed Norwegian-Pakistani decent even ran as the anti-Immigration and anti-EU Senterpartiet's ("Center Party") number two politician for its Parliamentary list [] . Far from downplaying his Pakistani heritage, he campaigned heavily amongst Pakistani communities in Norway, and would give speeches at Islamic associations in Oslo, such as the Jalsa Salana Norge [] . and achieved moderate success among second generation Pakistanis for his party's anti-immigrant, and closed-borders platform [ibid] .

Many Pakistanis are also involved in lower-level politics as part of regional councils and city councils. Abid Raja, formerly a scholar (not student) at Wadham College at the University of Oxford won a seat for the Akershus County council as a member of the Liberal Party.

Norwegian politicians actively engage themselves with Pakistanis in order to canvass votes. Rather surprisingly, Carl Hagen, head of the anti-immigration Fremskrittspartiet("Progress Party") even attended Pakistan Independence Day celebrations in Oslo to court the Pakistani vote [] .

Kristin Halvorsen, the leader of Norway's left-of-centre Socialist Left Party went so far as to journey to Pakistan in 2005 in order to court the vote of Norwegian citizens residing in Pakistan [] . Many other Norwegian politicians have courted the Pakistani vote in Norway by attending Pakistani cultural functions, such as the right-of-centreChristian Democrat (Norway) KRF party.

Pakistani-Norwegian Media Personalities

Mah-Rukh Ali was the first non-white news anchor for Norway's state broadcasting network, the NRK - although another Pakistani, Noman Mubashir, was the first non-white personality on Norwegian TV and hosted the multi-ethnic programe, Migrapolis, on the NDK before hosting a Saturday night entertainment show. Since then, Zahid Ali, another Pakistani, joined the ranks of minorities on Norwegian television by participating in the comedy program Rikets Røst on TV2

Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen is a well-known director of mixed Norwegian-Pakistani descent who directed three movies, including "Izzat."

Norway in Pakistan

Over half of all Pakistani immigrants to Norway came from the area around Kharian, Pakistan [] , which because of its strong ties to Norway, is known as "Little Norway" by local residents [] . As a result, Norwegian schools have been set up in Kharian to provide Norwegian education to children in the area who are either Norwegian citizens, or who may wish to immigrate to Norway some day. These schools are not merely Norwegian-medium or Norwegian-language schools, but are rather school that provide the same high-quality education afforded to children in Norway [] . One such school, the Bloomfield Hall School (in conjunction with Oslo's Lindeberg School) caters to not only Norwegian citizens in Kharian, but also serves as a language school for non-Norwegians [] .

Norway was also heavily involved in the 2005 earthquake relief operations in Pakistan.


In 2005, Izzat (a Norwegian film directed by Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen) is a story which follows Wasim and his youth gang years in the 1980s to his young adult years in the 1990s. The film is set in Oslo and deals with the double standards in a tough Pakistani gang environment. It relates directly to the difficulty of being raised as a Muslim immigrant in western countries. The word "Izzat" means honour in Urdu. A number of Pakistani Norwegians were featured in this film, and a small portion was filmed in Lahore, Pakistan.

Notable Pakistani Norwegians

"See "

* Abid Raja
* Afshan Rafiq
* Akhtar Chaudhry
* Amir Malik
* Assad Siddique
* Daud Mirza
* Deepika
* Elyas Mohammed
* Khalid Mahmood
* Khawar Sadiq
* Leon Bashir
* Mah-Rukh Ali
* Noman Mubashir
* Shabana Rehman
* Shahz
* Shahzad Abid
* Shazad Rana
* Tommy Sharif
* Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen
* Zahid Ali

ee also

* Overseas Pakistani
* Islam in Norway
* Demographics of Norway


External links

* [ The Pakistani Norwegians]
* [ Black-Haired Norwegians: Pakistani Women and Their Daughters]
* [ From Exclusion to Inclusion: the Pakistani Community in Norway]
* [ Oslo's trendy Pakistani hotspot]

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