OSLO – The famous Norwegian historian Kari Vogt, from Oslo University’s Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, has estimated that as much as 3,000 Norwegians converted to Islam in the recent few years, Verdens Gang reported.
“The previous trend of conversion to Islam in Norway has now changed drastically. Now, women are choosing Islam after reading and researching about Islam,” Dr. Vogt notes to the fact that previously Norwegian women were believed to convert to Islam as a result of marrying Muslim men.
The professor realized that the number of Norwegians choosing to become Muslim since the 1990s has substantially increased.
Her report showed that the number of converted Muslims in the Scandinavian country during the 1990s was around 500 while this number has reached around 3,000 in the recent years.
An example of this new trend is Monica Salmouk, a converted Muslim since 2014. She explained that she chose Islam after researching and reading a number of books about the religion.
Salmouk said she visited the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) mosque in Greenland, Oslo and chose to adopt Islam as her religion.
Another convert is Solva Nabila Sexelin, a 42-year old Norwegian who said she decided to convert to Islam after being inspired by the Muslim asylum seekers which she has been helping out.
Vogt is interested in Islam and has written some books on related topics like; ‘Islams hus’ in 1993, ‘Reise i Iran’ in 1997, and ‘Islam på Norsk’ in 2000.
She has been a board member of the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression and the Norwegian chapter of PEN International. She received the Fritt Ord Honorary Award in 1996.
Islam in Norway
Islam is a minority religion in Norway. It is the second largest religion after Christianity. Government statistics from the CIA registered 121,095 members of Islamic congregations in Norway, roughly 2.3% of the population, according to a 2011 registration.
The Pew Research Center estimated that 3.7% of Norwegians were Muslim in 2010 and 5.7% in 2016. About 55% of the Muslim community live in the counties of Oslo and Akershus.
Estimates about Muslims in Norway varied between 120,000 in 2005 and 163,000 in 2009. The vast majority of the community has an immigrant background, with Norwegians of Pakistani descent being the most visible and well-known group.
The first interaction between Norway and Islam arrived with the embassies of the Muslim sultan of Tunis to Norway in the 1260s after King Håkon Håkonsson had sent embassies to the Sultan with rich gifts.
The population of Muslims in the country hasn’t been noticeable until the latter half of the 20th century, however. Immigration from Muslim countries to Norway began late compared to other western-European countries and didn’t gather pace until the late 1960s.
The first mosque in Norway was the Islamic Cultural Centre, which opened in Oslo in 1974. The initiative for the mosque came from Pakistanis who were helped by the Islamic Cultural Centre which had already opened in Copenhagen, Denmark.