Right-wing movements are on the rise in Europe, from Germany to France to Scandinavia, where anti-immigration positions are gaining ground. Norway, a country that often stands out for its tolerance, has been governed by a center-right coalition since 2013 and there, too, xenophobic tendencies have been on the rise.
In a poignant speech at the Royal House in Oslo Sept. 2, the country’s King Harald V reminded Norwegians that theirs is historically a land of integration and one that has long tolerated different religions and sexual orientations.
“Norwegians are also immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Poland, Sweden, Somalia and Syria,” he said. “It is not always easy to say where we come from, to which nationality we belong. Home is where the heart is. That cannot always be placed within country borders.”
“Norwegians are young and old, tall and short, able-bodied and wheelchair users,” the king said, “Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys, and boys and girls who love each other. Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing.”
“In other words: you are Norway. We are Norway,” the king said. “My biggest hope for Norway is that we will manage to take care of each other, that we can build this country further on trust, solidarity, and generosity,” he said.
“That we can know that we—despite our differences—are one people.”