Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Hege Storhaug, the information director of Human Rights Service in Norway and the author of several books on immigration and integration, forced marriage, women in Pakistan, and related subjects. She is the author of the new book, But the Greatest of These Is Freedom: The Consequences of Immigration in Europe.
FP: Hege Storhaug, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Storhaug: Thank you, Jamie. It’s an honor to be interviewed by you.
FP: So tell us what inspired you to write this book.
Storhaug: Compassion for the only sacred thing on this earth: human beings. A deep gratitude for the high level of personal freedom we enjoy in Western societies. A deep recognition that the liberal values from which I’ve benefited since early childhood – among them equal rights, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion – are under increasing pressure, especially in Europe. And a deep recognition that our freedoms didn’t come gliding in from nowhere on a surfboard and didn’t come with an eternal guarantee. On the contrary, we have to fight for them every day – otherwise, we’ll wake up one day to a society we don’t want and don’t recognize.
In this sense, the book is a warning of what’s at risk. It’s about values. It’s about freedom. And it’s about the increasing influence of Islam – especially in Europe, but also in the U.S. and Canada.
Another driving force behind the book is my concern for individuals who are being crushed by extremely patriarchal and inhuman practices that have now become deeply rooted in Europe. What I’m thinking about are the intolerable acts to which so many Muslim girls and women are subjected: genital mutilation, forced marriage, the denial of divorce to wives in violent marriages, the compulsive wearing of the veil, limited freedom of movement and – most extreme of all – honor killing.
Honor killing, as it happens, is the topic of the book’s first chapter, which is about a heartbreaking crime that took place in Norway in 2002. Anooshe, a child bride from Afghanistan, was executed by her husband outside a courthouse and police station in the small coastal city of Kristiansund in western Norway. Why? Because she wanted to avail herself of a basic human right – the right to break out of a marriage. Hardly any other event has had more of an effect on me than this one. This was a remarkable young woman who could have made a difference in my country if only the authorities had done their job – namely, to protect her.
In short, what I do in the book is describe the problems that “the new Europe” faces today, after decades of heavy immigration, and propose specific policy measures to resolve these problems.
FP: What is the main argument of the book?
Storhaug: The main argument is that Europe’s blind faith in multiculturalism as an ideological pillar of our society has failed dramatically. The academic elite and naïve politicians have bought into the idea that all cultures are equally good, and that the result of immigration from non-Western countries will be that different cultures will take root here and flower side by side with European culture. This way of thinking has led to the establishment of more and more closed enclaves where Islam trumps personal freedom and where the national authorities, including police and fire fighters, no longer have control.
The first victims of this tragedy are the individuals inside these enclaves – especially girls and women. Over time, the chances are very high that this tragedy can destabilize national states socially and also economically, given the high levels of joblessness and welfare dependency. If this development is not turned around within a decade, and if Europe doesn’t work out an immigration policy that is healthy and sustainable in terms of values, the continent is doomed. It will be Islamized, and will suffer everything that goes with that.
FP: How is your book different from other previous books broaching this subject?
Storhaug: As far as I have noticed, my fairly broad background differs from that of other authors on these issues. Not long after I started out as a rookie journalist in 1992, I came across the phenomenon of forced marriage among Pakistanis in Norway. Because I was so shaken up by the situation, and because I also realized immediately this problem would only become more and more important over the years, I decided that I wanted to learn firsthand about this so-called honor culture. So I went to Pakistan in 1993 and stayed there for over two years. It was a culture shock. One of the things that shocked me the most was the lack of empathy for the victim of oppression and assault. This culture shock led to my book Mashallah: A journey among women in Pakistan (1996).
After my return to Norway, I performed investigative journalism in the Muslim community, with a focus assault and mentality. My work led to the revelation that young women in Norway were being subjected to honor killings and genital mutilations. I also showed that imams were speaking out of both sides of their mouths – on open camera they opposed genital mutilation, on hidden camera they were for it. And so on. I also worked in the grass roots inside immigrant communities in an effort to understand both the mentality and the living conditions of those who are rendered vulnerable in extremely hierarchical social structures. My work has led to changes in national policy and legislation.
In 2002 I helped found a think tank called Human Rights Service. Our focus is on the living conditions of Muslim girls and women in Europe and on the struggle for values posed by the rise of Islam in Europe. During my years with HRS, I’ve uncovered scandalous problems, put them on the national agenda, and collaborated with politicians at the highest level, in Norway and elsewhere, to work out solutions to these problems. During my 19 years on the job, I’ve worked on pretty much every level of this crisis imaginable. This has given me a profound understanding of the challenges we face and it has won me professional respect from politicians – even though this has been an uphill battle because of the power of the politically correct elite and its determination to deny and distort the facts.
FP: What do we need to do to defend our civilization? Tell us some steps that need to be taken and tell our readers who want to make a change what they can do.
Storhaug: It would nearly require a whole book to answer this question satisfactorily. It’s exactly the question that I try to answer in this book, and my answer is on two levels. I take a larger, more abstract view of issues of freedom, self-knowledge, and the understanding of what makes a democracy strong. But I’m more specific when I address the types of abuse that are being imported mainly through immigration from the Muslim world.
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