Debunked: the Zionist and Islamophobic libel of a “rape epidemic” by Muslims in Norway
By: Ali Abunimah
Islamophobic and Zionist websites are actively promoting a claim that Norway – and perhaps Europe – is experiencing an “epidemic” of rapes carried out by Muslim men.
This has been given added credibility for some because the claim appears to be based on data in a recent research study by the Oslo Police District, and a news report on that study by Norway’s state broadcaster NRK.
But the claim is completely false. In fact, as The Electronic Intifada discovered and this post will explain, the Oslo Police study found that most rapes in Norway are carried out by men of Norwegian and European background. More importantly, the evidence shows that there is no link between ethnicity, culture or religion and propensity to carry out rapes or sexual assaults.
The “black brute” and the ugly racist history of the rape libel
The rape libel is one of the worst that can be leveled against any group of people, for it is often a justification for dehumanization and organized violence. It was notoriously used to justify lynchings of black men in the southern United States during the Jim Crow era. But now the defamatory stereotype of the “black brute” intent on raping white women is being joined by the racialized Muslim brute.
Islamophobic agitators promote rape libel against Muslims
The rape libel against Muslim men has been repeated on dozens of Zionist and Islamophobic websites, including those frequently cited by Anders Breivik, the man who killed dozens of people on 22 July in the name of protecting Norway from an imagined Muslim takeover.
On 28 May, less than two months before Breivik killed 69 people in Oslo and the island of Utøya, notorious Islamophobe Pamela Geller published an item claiming that in Norway, “All rapes in past 5 years committed by Muslims ‘non-western’ immigrants.”
The same day, Robert Spencer, another Islamophobic inciter frequently cited by Breivik claimed on his JihadWatch website: “Meanwhile, all rapes in Norway in the last five years have been committed by…uh…’non-Western immigrants,’ the latest euphemism for Muslims.”
Spencer also posted a subtitled report from Norway’s state broadcaster NHK which appears to corroborate the claim.
The rape libel also entered the mainstream of US radical Christianist media. A 20 August 2011 report from Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network claimed:
Something else that Muslim immigration appears to have brought to Norway is what some here call “a rape epidemic.”
That report, like so many others, used the rape libel to incite fear of a Muslim takeover.
Promotion by Israeli sources
Norway is suffering from an unprecedented wave of rapes that are largely being perpetrated by Muslim immigrants against local women, according to Yehuda Bello, an acclaimed Israeli blogger whose special interests include Norway.
This was the horrifying claim made by the widely read Israel National News (INN) website earlier this month in an item titled “Muslim ‘Rape Wave’ Reported in Oslo.
Bello says women do not dare venture out of their homes after dark in many parts of Oslo and that many have even dyed their hair black, out of the conviction that blond hair is more alluring to the rapists.
As a quick search will reveal, the INN report can be found on dozens of Zionist, radical Christianist and Islamophobic blogs.
In recent weeks, the popular Israeli “satire” show LatmaTV, backed by an American Neoconservative think-tank, the Center for Security Policy, included the rape libel in an Islamophobic video. In one sequence, a Norwegian father tells his blonde daughter about Muslims: “When they rape you don’t object for that is politically incorrect.”
Misleading and grossly distorted Norwegian TV report
When the Oslo Police District research study was published, Norway’s state broadcaster NRK carried a report on it. A YouTube video of the report was posted by Geller, Spencer and many other websites to give credibility to the rape libel. It is unclear who made the English subtitles on the YouTube. They begin:
In Oslo, all sexual assaults involving rape in the past year has [sic] been committed by males of non-western background this was the conclusion of a police report published today.
This means that every rape assault in the last five years, where the rapist could be identified, he was a man of foreign origin.
The TV report then profiled one victim of a sexual assault. It described the victim as “ethnic Norwegian” and showed her from behind – a young woman with blond hair. It described the perpetrator as a man of “Pakistani heritage,” according to the subtitles.
The TV report suggested that the man’s religion and views of women could explain his behavior. But it never actually uses the word “Muslim,” only the term “non-western.” The conclusion that all the rapists were Muslims appears to be an embellishment by the likes of Pamela Geller.
The TV report also cited figures from the police study claiming that in 83 out of 86 cases of sexual assault involving rape from 2005-2010 the perpetrator was described as “non-Western” in appearance.
Yet an examination of the police research study itself reveals that the Norwegian TV report grossly distorts the findings and omits essential information resulting in a wholly misleading picture..
In light of the findings below, civil rights and anti-racism groups should consider lodging formal complaints against NRK for the gross bias and lack of objectivity of this report which has provided ammunition to racists and Islamophobes all over the world.
What the Oslo Police District research on rape really says
The 88-page research study is titled “Voldtekt i den globale byen” (Rape in the Global Village) and is authored by Marianne Saetre and Veslemøy Grytdal.
The Electronic Intifada had relevant sections of the report (pages 51-56) professionally translated into English. These pages are attached to this post in their entirety along with a PDF of the original Norwegian report for comparison.
A taxonomy of sexual assault
The study distinguishes among different types of sexual assault involving rape: party-related, relationship, vulnerability and assault. The technical definitions are based on the circumstances in which the rape takes place and/or the relationship between attacker and victim.
Assault rape – stereotypically an attack by a stranger – is the rarest form of rape. Out of the 152 reported rapes in the Oslo Police District in 2010, 6 were classified by the researchers as “assault” rapes.
Citizenship of the rapists
The vast majority of rapists in Norway are Norwegian citizens and three quarters are European citizens. The police study states on page 52:
The majority of registered perpetrators in cases of reported rape in Oslo in 2010 have Norwegian citizenship, as has been the case in every previous rape study. In 2010 this went for 61.2% of the perpetrators, which is relatively stable compared to the material from 2007 (60.3%). A relatively high proportion, 12.5%, of the registered perpetrators are from other parts of Europe, and taken together almost three quarters of the perpetrators in 2010 have European citizenship. For the rest, 10.5% are from Africa, 9.2% from the Middle East, 4.6% from Asia and 2% from America.
Ethnic background: “Europeans” were the largest group of rapists
According to the Oslo Police study, persons of Norwegian background were the largest group among the identified rapists and persons of “European” background comprised more than half. The 152 rapes in 2010 were carried out by 131 suspects. The study states on pages 53-54:
The proportion of perpetrators (unique persons) of Norwegian national background is the group whose representation increases the most, comprising 38.2% of perpetrators. Together this brings the proportion of perpetrators with a European continental background to a total of 51.9%.
Assault rape and the relevance of ethnic background
The authors of the Oslo Police study appear to be aware that they are writing in a context where rape and other crimes are being generally blamed on foreigners. They write:
Crude generalizations that have given the impression that rapists are only foreigners – and primarily Muslims – are shown to be inadequate and erroneous.
The study notes that while there are no Norwegian rapists in the six assault rapes in 2010 where the perpetrator is identified, the number of cases is very small and the circumstances very “special.” When taking a broader sample of assault rapes, there is more diversity among the perpetrators. On pages 55-56:
The ethnic profile varies within the different types of rape, but for all types except assault rape the largest group is composed of Norwegian perpetrators. Assault rape only comprises 6 cases, however, and the same perpetrator was responsible for two of these (there were 5 unique suspects/persons seen in 6 reports). In 4 of the six reports (3 unique men) the perpetrator was from the Middle-East, in one assault rape the man was from Africa, and in another, from Asia.
Claims that all assault rapes are committed by foreigners are thus supported by these figures, although the basis for the claims is small and the selection is special. Two of the five different identified perpetrators responsible for the assault rapes were very young – less than 18 – and two had serious psychiatric diagnoses. If you extend the material to cover the 16 assault rape cases in which the person is unidentified, but where a description has been provided by the victim, another picture emerges: 8 of the perpetrators were of African/dark-skinned appearance, 5 were western/fair-haired/Nordic and 4 looked Asian. It is not certain how many different people provided these descriptions of the perpetrators, as the perpetrators of assault rapes tend to commit several violations.
“Alien culture” is not an explanation for rape
The Police research study stresses that ethnicity itself is not a factor. What are factors contributing to assault rapes are when perpetrators are on the margins of society. On page 56:
It must be emphasized once more that the marked over-representation of individuals from a minority background in connection with several types of rape cannot be interpreted as a result of alien culture being a causal explanation for rape. The reports apply to only a few of the rapes that occur, and the inclination to report rape is different for perpetrators of Norwegian origin than it is for those of a different country of origin. Furthermore there is thorough quantitative research to confirm that statistical differences in criminal behavior between ethnic groups disappear when the figures are controlled for the socio-economic circumstances in which the individuals concerned have grown up in Norway.
Norway has a sexual assault problem and it’s not a “Muslim” problem
There is enough research from all over the world demonstrating that rape and sexual assault are, unfortunately, universal problems that cross all national, geographic, ethnic and religious boundaries.
This was underscored by a recent study which found, as The New York Times reported:
One in 10 Norwegian women over the age of 15 has been raped, according to the country’s largest shelter organization, the Secretariat of the Shelter Movement. But at least 80 percent of these cases are never brought to official attention and only 10 percent of those that are end in a conviction, the Justice Ministry says.
Nowhere is this taboo more stubborn than in the family home, long considered off-limits for law enforcement and the state.
“The statistics tell us that the safest place for women is outside, on the street – most rapes happen at home,” said Tove Smaadahl, general manager of the Shelter Movement. In a 2005 survey by the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, 9 percent of female respondents in a relationship reported experiencing sexual assault.
Even worse in the United States
In the United States the situation is similar, but possibly even worse, as The New York Times also reported this month:
An exhaustive government survey of rape and domestic violence released on Wednesday [14 December] affirmed that sexual violence against women remains endemic in the United States and in some instances may be far more common than previously thought.
Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. One in six women have been stalked, according to the report.