Oslo Car Fires Highlight Threat to Norway's Future

Taken together, two seemingly unrelated news stories from Norway paint a grim picture of that city’s future.

First, you need to know that Oslo is a sprawling, low-lying city, more of a small-scale Los Angeles than a small-scale New York.  Out on its eastern flank is a large valley called Groruddalen which, a few years ago, was a sleepy mishmash of industry and suburban apartment blocks.  It is now quickly becoming an urban center all its own.  It is said that if current trends continue, Groruddalen will, within a couple of decades, dwarf downtown Oslo itself as a population center.

One not-so-little detail: the reason for Groruddalen’s rapid growth is that it is a destination for new Muslim immigrants.  Groruddalen is, in short, a Muslim enclave in the making.

This is a first for Oslo.  Other cities in Europe already have Muslim enclaves -- neighborhoods that are “no-go” areas for non-Muslims and that Muslim leaders consider autonomous or semi-autonomous territories, subject to sharia law and to the dictates of local imams.  In these areas, young men terrorize police officers or firefighters or ambulance workers who dare to cross into their territory.  Sharia dress codes are strictly enforced.  And cars are set on fire.

Until recently, by the strictest definition, Oslo hasn’t really had a Muslim enclave.  Yes, it has neighborhoods -- Grønland, Tøyen -- that are heavily Muslim.  There are parts of these neighborhoods where you wouldn’t want to venture at night, or perhaps even in the day.  And even in broad daylight, on a crowded major artery, a gay couple, say, would be well advised not to walk hand-in-hand.  But until recently, as I say, Oslo hasn’t had anything you could unequivocally call a “no-go” area.

In the last couple of years, however, it’s been clear that Groruddalen is fast approaching that status. The rise in Muslim population in the valley has been accompanied by a variety of challenging developments, including gang wars and a rise in rapes and other violent crimes.  The newspapers increasingly report on donnybrooks involving dozens of Muslim gang members; these often take place at or near the subway station in Ellingsrudåsen, a neighborhood in Groruddalen.

Yet another grim indication that the day of reckoning is near appeared in the July 11 issue of VG. The night before, it was reported, something had happened that is unprecedented in Oslo: eleven cars had been set on fire in Ellingsrudåsen.  All of them had been destroyed, and three others had sustained fire damage.  The same night, another fire in the same area destroyed a car and Moped.

You’ve read about the large-scale torching of cars in the suburbs of Paris -- crimes that the authorities seem powerless to stop, crimes that are the very symbol of the chaos into which the City of Light, among many other civilized metropolises, is sinking?  Well, this is how it starts.