When the Norwegian patriarchy hit me in the face

Faiza Ashraf called the police and told who kidnapped her. The media didn't believe her.

Norway is the best country to live in. No two opinions on that. And yes i know, we are world-class in gender equality.

People keep telling us that right? And we are brainwashed to not question the notion.

Ignorance is bliss.

The murder of Faiza Ashraf in 2010. This beautiful 26-year-old, brutally murdered last year. She was of Pakistani origin. The community was shell-shocked.

Sadly her murder was due to the patriarchal thought gone too far. A stalker had been harassing her for several years. She hated him, and didn’t want anything to with him. He asked drug addicts on the streets of downtown Oslo to throw acid on her face. (Throwing acid is what some men in Pakistan do, if they are turned down. No woman says no to a man ofcourse, so if she does, she has to be mutilated for life). No one agreed to this horrendous request.

The man, a Pakistani norwegian himself, finally did the unthinkable: he hired a norwegian bodybuilder/small-time criminal to kidnap her. He did, and he murdered her. She was not found for three weeks. But Faiza was a woman of substance.

Faizas will to live, to survive the unthinkable… When she was thrown in the trunk of the car, was courageous. She got herself loose from the handcuffs and managed to call the police from her cellphone. She was on the phone with the police for 45 minutes. She told who she believed was behind the kidnapping, described the Norwegian man who kidnapped her.

She practically solved her own murder. The police hesitated in believing her. Nothing of this sort had ever happened in Norway. It took quite some time before the surveillance of her cellphone was put in place.

Faiza is gone, but what happened to her, and how the media treated her is etched in my memory. I have analyzed the media coverage of her murder, and I am heartbroken. At one in time, while she still was not found, just a couple of days after her cry for help from the trunk of her murderers car, VG wrote a story which was close to character assassination.

Essentially they blamed Faiza. She faked the call. She staged her disappearance. She was actually keen to runaway from her family. She had a secret boyfriend. She was fed up with her controlling parents trying to force her into a marriage. A “close” friend of hers told the police. VG got hold of the police transcripts. The story was front-page news. It was picked up by NTB (the original story was right there, in the Retriever archives, but cant seem to find it anymore. BUT the NTB copyright protected story was published all over. Like this link from Aftenposten), the main news agency in Norway and was plastered all over Norwegian media.

The underlying thought was: a young woman can not have made that call from the trunk. Was she really that sharp and courageous? Her stalker was called “hopelessly in love” with her. Freeing him from all guilt. The poor fellow couldn’t help it. So if Faiza Ashraf was kidnapped/killed/stalked by him, she was to blame herself. Why didn’t she put an end to it earlier? There is a way in which women should behave, so if she is murdered, then she must have done something. So, the media should shred her private life into pieces. She has to fight for her innocence, post-mortem. Unethical and in bad taste.

The underlying patriarchal thought, the blaming of the female victim… it is not something that only happens in the extremely patriarchal society of Pakistan. It happens here to. In the best country to live in. The world champions in gender equality.

My illusion is shattered. It scares me. How the media treats victims who are unable to defend themselves. That fine line between the need to publish, and the duty to be considerate to the victims and her loved ones. It is a two-edged sword. The consequences can be devastating for the victim. The patriarchal discourse in Norwegian media is a disgrace, but it reflects the society. Every 4th woman has been subject to domestic violence in Norway.

Yes, so before we pop the champagne, just take into account, in Norway a woman killed is at risk of being blamed for her murder. Ever so subtly, but there, between the lines…. in a news story in the leading tabloid of the country.

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Marte Michelet – who let the dogs out?

Islamophobia is on a roll. Europeans don’t acknowledge it, but they are in it, head first. The continent with the most horrific of the crimes in recent history, the holocaust. Has less to be proud of as the racism and fascism raises it’s head. Though they are in denial, as Europeans tend to regard themselves as super-beings. The most civilized westerners of the lot. They have at last found an enemy and how! There is no problem in the world they can’t pin on the Muslims. However the most intriguing part of the situation is self-glorifying and apparent lack of common sense.

A woman of substance tells it like it is, in a national newspaper. Both her and the newspaper are of-course labeled “muslim whores”. Marte Michelet speaks of the raising islamophobia, happening at this very moment around Europe. The level of hatred and animosity against Muslims is taking the form of violent and non violent outcries against in most cases innocent fellow-citizens. Their only crime being their religion. Does this ring a bell anyone? Is history repeating itself, and are we being witness to a new Nazi uprising and a new holocaust in the making?

The outrages out-pours to Marte Michelet makes you wonder. Who let the dogs out? The comments to her piece has crossed 720 and still counting! Whatever did the Muslims in Norway do to the Norwegians? Okay, so in some crime-statistics the immigrants are overrepresented. There are ofcourse things done by people with muslim believes which are disgrace. There are crimes committed by them as by any other person with or without the baggage of illiteracy, poverty and other social issues. As no-one with a normal mind would pin all Norwegians pedophiles because some of them were. Or no-one with a normal mind would label all catholic priests as child-abusers, because some were. But now every immigrant is automatically labeled a Muslim, and every Muslim is a wife-beater, terrorist and socially incompetent. Well, hold on a little. There are some striking resemblance between this and the extremists in Muslim countries blaming the west and USA for everything. It is quite ironic to see that the mob against islam is getting quite like the ones they “hate”.

Another interesting aspect of this headless out-pour is that now every other Norwegian is a semi-mullah. To pin you down they have studied the quranic verses and hadiths more then you have. Now they tell you that as a matter of fact you are no real Muslim if you don’t know that quran states the you should kill all non-believers! Now we have semi-mullahs to tell us how our religion is to be practiced. Don’t be a fool and try to reason with them! How can you humbly state that 1,2 billion muslims don’t practice the quran word by word. There aren’t millions of “non-believers” killed due to their religion. The obvious fact that 99% of the 1,2 billion muslims live a quite peaceful and “normal” lives, does not go down well.

One wonders, and rightfully so. Who are the real extremists? How does two wrongs make a right? The name-calling and harassing of Marte Michelets is no pretty sight, and the ambassadors of freedom of speech, democracy and “good” human values should truly be ashamed of themselves. There is no difference in the narrow-minded, illogical extremist views of a mullah in Pakistan or a pseudo-mullah i Norway. It is as sad to see the hatred expressed in the 720 comments posted to Marte Michelets story as it is to hear Osama Bin Laden talking.

Baked Salmon with sweet onion and fennel!

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Haven’t been posting that much on my site lately. 😦 Have not been feeling well, so motivating myself to writing was hard!

I have been making dinners though, but not feeling for taking pictures of them. Regretting that now, but I made this baked salmon a couple of weeks ago. My sister made a comment upon eating this dish…..she said ours  must be the most frequently fish-eating desi family in Norway. That was a huge compliment! I like to believe that I give my children healthy proper food to eat, and what is healthier then red fish?

I found this recipe in Jamie Oliver cookbook, and I must say that the combination of ingredients was unusual but absolutely lovely!

I thought fresh Fennel would be hard to find, but I found it in my regular grocery store Rema 1000.

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I used:

1 kg Salmon fillet without skin and bones

2 fresh Fennel

1 onion

2-3 cloves garlic

1 kg of potatoes

1 tsp fennel seed (saunf)

Two handful of good quality Parmesan Reggiano

300ml single cream

bread crust

Cut potatoes in slices and boil them for a couple of minutes in salted water, and put them aside. Now slice the onions and fennel. Take good quality EVOO in a skillet and add garlic, onion and fennel and cook on low heat with lid on for 10 minutes till it’s soft and jam-like. Transfer the “jam” to a baking dish, lay the salmon on top (remember to thoroughly salt and pepper the fish) and cover with pre-cooked potatoes. Now in a bowl mix the cream, Parmesan and salt and pepper and pour it over the dish covering it nicely. The bread crust comes on the top and in the oven it goes. Bake in oven on 200 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes. (check out that the fish is cooked through). 5 minutes before taking out the bake use a little more Parmesan to grate the dish!

And voila, you have the most gorgeous baked salmon u ever tasted. The fennel does the magic!

The D-vitamin Movement!!

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Let me clarify at the very outset, I’m no doctor (for those who haven’t read “about me”). But having a chronic and severe lack of D vitamin in my body I know a thing or two about D vitamins.

Being a woman and not just any but a Norwegian-Pakistani woman I got dealt some weak cards as far as health was concerned. With 2/3 of the elderly Norwegian-Pakistani women having diabetes type 2 I have a thing or two to worry about. My mother being one of these doesn’t make it any easier. Not only that, many of our mothers also live with severe chronic joint and muscle pains. I know, because I have experienced it first hand. My mother have them all. She is a beautiful, strong and graceful woman. She had a strong and slim body most part of her life. She never suffered from any pains or illnesses when she was young. Contrary to me!

The last couple of years I have been struggling to find out why I have been having all sorts of muscle and joint pains, a weak immune system and higher pain sensitivity. I got all my answer a while back when I got to know that my D-vitamin values were nearly zero!

Being true to myself I took the news in a nonchalant manner. Knowing nothing about this vitamin I went about my life as usual, taking the prescribed d-vitamin pills every now and then. But with time I had to pay attention to what my body was trying to tell me. I googled a lot on d vitamin and what i found was not a pleasant reading.

Lack of D vitamin can cause some serious and even fatal illnesses. Research show that the horrible Multiple Scleroses is a illness getting more common in immigrants in Norway, especially women. There is also ample research showing a clear connection between lack of d vitamin and many kind of cancers. The most common symptom however is severe muscle and joint pains and even depression.

Norway, the land of midnight sun is not that sunny at all. Over half of the year you hardly get any sun exposure. Vanity keeps the Norwegian Pakistani women from getting sun on their face and body as most of them prefer being pale. Sun is the main source of vitamin D, followed by fish. Naturally the body does not get to produce the required amount of vitamin D.

The consequences of your body being deprived of vitamin D are so severe and effecting so many desi women that one can’t sit idle and watch what’s going on. Myself and X-plosiv has therefore started the D-vitamin movement. Main objective being information about vitamin D and how one can get it and what a lack can do to your body. We want everybody to know that this is a serious health issue effecting all the desi women in Norway and can not be taken lightly.

I know take my vitamin D pills religiously! It is devastating to be a young mother of two and have to battle aches and pains in the entire body due to a lack that can be fixed easily. I just hope I am not too late. And my strongest wish is to make everyone aware of it make them take responsibility for their health!

Sicilian meatballs with pasta blanco

Scicilian meatballs and pasta blanco!

After days of depression due to the venomous out-pore in the media regarding desis and immigrants here in Norway, I have had enough! What better way to get out off depression then to eat 🙂 That one always works and makes me happy. I enjoy both cooking and eating….

Well I made these meatballs and pasta, and it was absolutely wonderful!

The meatballs are the size off a tennis-ball each. Cooked in the oven and with tomato-sauce.

You need a kilo of ground beef, two tins off excellent quality canned tomatoes. (high end grocery-shops always carry a variety of canned tomatoes. I would suggest Smartclub for those who really want to find the best canned tomatoes). The meatballs are simple to make. Have the ground meat in a bowl and add herbs and spices (e.g. salt, black pepper, a little chili, loads of Parmesan, basil and breadcrumbs). Make tennis-size meatballs. Put two cannes of tomatoes in the baking tin, add salt and pepper to it, place the meatballs on top and cook for 30-40 minutes.

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Serve with the wonderfully simple pasta blanco (pasta with EVOO, garlic, Parmesan and freshly grounded salt and pepper)!

I made these for the first time and this is now a permanent addition to the dinners I make frequently…..

Did I mention I love Italian food? :-))

Bon appetite!

Living in Norway, a price to pay!

 

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NOTE: Made 27. august 2011, original post made jan. 10th 2008. 

(I assume you want to learn more about living in Norway, and that is how you found my blog. Please visit www.blendmag.no , which is my magazine Blend, Norways largest multicultural webmag. Use google translator. It will give you an idea of how it is to live here from a diversity perspective). Thanks!

ORIGINAL POST:

Show me desis living outside their native countries who have not experienced envied looks from people back home. And whom have not gotten thoroughly irritated when it has been implied that money apparently grows on trees outside Pakistan.  Further more, how extremely lucky we are living in Norway. Well we are lucky and cause of envy for some, but money certainly does not grow on trees over-here! For the life in safety, peace and prosperity we are extremely lucky and should feel utter gratitude. But there is a price to pay!

From time to time the media in Norway goes haywire over crimes committed by desis (or immigrant in general). Well they occasionally have good reason to. There are too many desi brothers involved in less proper things. Besides ruining their own lives they do a good job in making lives of innocent desis uncomfortable. With passing times the Norwegians are becoming more and more sceptical and even hostile towards non-ethnic Norwegians. The most common and frightening opinion is that there is no racism in Norway and that desis/immigrants just complain for nothing!

It is a well known fact that desis/immigrants have the highest rate of unemployment. Even higher education and university degrees do not help in some cases. Many immigrants are over-qualified and under-paid for their jobs. The evil circle is complete as low income leads to ghettos, low-class diseases, social and economical problems. These however are facts that ethnic-Norwegians in larger and larger extent do not consider anymore. The only thing they see is more and more “black” people in the city. Oslo specifically.

A new report shows that 48 of Oslo’s schools have a majority of non-ethnic children. The same day the news breaks there are several opinions in media on how to tackle the problem. Everything from the basic human-right violation of prohibiting people to live where they want to, to transport children to schools with less non-ethnics etc. The blame is solely given to immigrants who can not seem to live outside “ghettos” and who do not choose to live outside Oslo. Chat-sites and other forums are filled with Norwegians pissed of on the facts of the study, and who just have had it and want their country “back”.

Politicians and especially members of the Progress-party (Fremskrittspartiet) come with cheap and populist solutions to the problem that arises when the majority on a school is non-ethnic. There is no doubt about it, it is not an optimal situation as the Norwegian language suffers in schools where there are all kinds of different background represented.

How one would wish that instead of looking for short-term solutions, the authorities would realise the challenges our generation is facing. There should be made stronger efforts to break the basic evil circle!! First of all, employers should stop discriminating non-ethnics. It is a shown fact that this happens, but still many immigrants are accused of being lazy and corrupt. There have been a proposal of allocation of non-ethnics in governmental jobs, on the basis of merits. This proposal has been shredded to pieces as many politicians believe this is discriminating to the rest of the public! That non-ethnics should not get any advantageous due to their color. This is seeing things in a totally romantic and naive light. When immigrants are discriminated on the job-market, how can one actually tackle the problem?? Especially when many Norwegians feel there does not even exist racism?

And how can one expect desis to live outside “ghettos” when these are the areas they can afford to live in due to their poorly paid jobs or unemployment? How do one motivate desi children for higher studies when many with higher education drive cabs or the subway? How do one achieve a healthier spread of colored children in Oslo-schools when their parents can’t afford to live on the west-side of the city? Last but not least, why can’t people see value it is in having colored children in schools? That teaches children of colors to co-exist in a peaceful way, and they learn from early on that people come in all shapes, sizes and colors and culture. They learn how to handle that. That is something the Norwegian community can not brag about.

It is times like this that give your life some perspective. Yes we are lucky to live in such a beautiful county in safety, but we pay the price. The price of being considered different by some, the price of being an equity and not an asset for some. The knowledge of the fact that my children, third generation immigrants, will always be seen as different and maybe not have the same opportunities due their color. It is a heavy price to pay!

When Shazia discovered ABBA!

This happens rarely. Me having time off, from my adorable children, home, job and other must-dos. For the first time in my busy but not so adventures life I got to travel abroad on my own. Well not entirely on my own, my super girlfriend came along. This was a true crazy-girlfriends-on-vacation adventure.

We didn’t go that far, nor did we venture into tracks less beaten. We leave it for our next trip, tracking and climbing mountains.

Our trip went to London, and not just any time off the year. No sir, if I was to go on a trip by myself I was gonna spend my money the fast and the furious way. We arrived London on boxing day, which means the boxing day sales! Sure we have our “rom-juls-salg” and “januar-salg” in Norway, but there are no comparisons here. I have not used this much money on clothes and myself as I did in one evening on Oxford street on the 27. of December! And I might as well confess it outright: I LOVED IT!! Though I was almost killed in the near-stampede experience, and the underground wasn’t that fun I LOVED London-shopping 🙂

Well, must not go overboard with my shopaholic mind! The thing that was even more fun then the shopping on sale, was “Mamma Mia”. I am not heavily into musicals, operas and theater. But my wonderful friend gifted me a ticked to the bizarrely successful “Mamma Mia”. A musical based on the music by the legendary ABBA.

I must be very young when ABBA broke up, because I don’t have any clear memories of ABBA songs. Nor have I ever interested me for the music or the ABBA, Elvis Priestly era. I went into the West End theater this evening with my friend with no expectations, rather slightly sceptical. Give me any bollywood kitsch, escapist cinema any day. But musical?

 

From the curtain went up and the last note of last song was played I was hooked. I totally loved the musical, but even more…. I discoveredABBA!!! I cant believe I never bothered to listen to “Waterloo”, “money money, money”, “mamma mia” and so on. The music is incredible! And on the last two songs I was on the end of my seat on the verge of just throwing all my inhibitions overboard and dancing som true blue bhangra! A pity that everyone though vigorously clapping and cheering, stay put in their seats. The musical deserved some solid bhangra dancing and “siti’s”. The musical “Mamma mia” has a wonderfully funny story about a young girls quest to find out who her father is, by inviting the three possible ones on her wedding. The mother of the girl and her two friends totally steal the show with their comic timing and great singing. Strange that bollywood hasn’t copied the musical yet!

Well, from now on I am a die hard ABBA fan who loves to do the housework with ABBA playing in the background. And some fantasies running in mind about what to buy on London sales next year 🙂

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