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Norway's Mosques Are Multiplying, and Taxpayers Foot the Bill

Founded in 2001, Oslo-based Human Rights Service (HRS) has been instrumental in supplying useful and illuminating research about the scale, nature, and social and economic impact of immigration into Norway. Its recommendations have resulted in important policy changes, its website is very widely read by Norwegians who are skeptical about Islam, and the latest book by its information officer, Hege Storhaug (just out in English as Islam: Europe Invaded, America Warned), was a massive bestseller.

In the U.S., a think tank like HRS would be funded by corporate donors and philanthropists, but, in accordance with Scandinavian practice, it gets its money -- which, given how much it accomplishes, doesn't really come to all that big a sum -- from the national government. Pretty much every year brings another fight over how much, if anything, HRS should get from the public till, with almost everyone on the left (and not a few on the right) complaining that its work contributes to negative images of Muslims. This year, the proposed national budget for 2019 left untouched the generous handouts to such far-left PC enforcers as the “Anti-Racist Center,” but cut by a half minute kroner ($60,000) the annual subsidy to HRS. The planned cut drew so much attention that a couple of leading members of the Progress Party (FrP) -- which voters put into power largely so that it could implement the kind of reforms that HRS has called for -- were actually roused to action and saw to it that the budget line was left untouched.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian state budget doles out far larger sums to other, far more dubious recipients -- and HRS, as it happens, has been instrumental in digging out and publicizing the numbers. I'm referring to the huge annual payouts to mosques, which for some reason almost all of the members of the Norwegian parliament think they have the obligation to fund.

In recent weeks, coincidentally, even as HRS was fighting to hang onto its own minuscule government appropriation, it was publishing bombshell reports on the stunning increase in the number of mosques in Norway -- and on the corresponding rise in the amount of taxpayer funds transferred to their coffers. Norway, let it be remembered, has a tiny population of 5.25 million people -- almost identical to that of Chicago -- but at present it has 219 mosques, which represents a 65% upsurge since only eight years ago. This year, the mosques received a total of 187 million kroner ($22,359,347) from the government.

How does the government decide how much to give each mosque? I didn't know the answer until the other day. It is rooted in the fact that, until January of last year, the Church of Norway (DNK) was the nation's official state church. It used to be the case that unless your parents opted out of it, you were automatically registered as a member at birth. Naturally, the government covered the Church's expenses, and each congregation's annual endowment was based on its membership statistics. In Norway, as elsewhere in Western Europe, church attendance has radically declined over the past few years, but in Norway the amount of cash infused into those churches has remained relatively constant, meaning that the sum per worshiper has increased dramatically. In order to be fair, by its own lights, the Norwegian parliament supports mosques at the same rate per registered member as the DNK. Since official mosque membership has skyrocketed even as church attendance has dived (one in eight residents of Oslo now belong to a mosque), the amount of taxpayer money handed over to these houses of worship has, according to an FrP official, “escalated at an alarming tempo.”