Inger Furseth: Muslims in Norwegian prisons and the defence

Denne rapporten fokuserer på muslimske minoriteters rettigheter i statlige institusjoner. De institusjonene som inngår i undersøkelsen gjelder fengsler og Forsvaret. Til tross for at begge typer institusjoner opererer innenfor det samme samfunn, der den offentlige politikk er ment å skulle sikre lik respekt og like muligheter for medlemmer av alle trossamfunn, er konsekvensene av denne politikken forskjellig for de to institusjonene som her undersøkes.

This report discusses public policies concerning religious diversity by conducting a case study of the role of religion in two state institutions in Norway, namely prisons and the Norwegian Defence. The report focuses on a set of issues resulting from immigration processes experienced by most Western European societies in recent decades, that of recognizing the religious identities of immigrants or people of immigrant descent, especially Muslims. Prisons and the military are used as indicators of policies governing religious diversity because the terms of multiculturalism are experienced in the everyday life of these «total institutions.» Moreover, the fact that the responsibility for providing religious care to prisoners and military personnel rests with the Church of Norway and its clergy raises questions about the extent to which public policy effectively respects the equality of religious faiths. Prisons and the military exist in a society with one general policy for assuring equal respect and equal opportunities for members of all faiths, but the consequences of this policy are different for the two institutions in question. On a more theoretical level, this report argues that the circumstances in prison and military institutions call into question the traditional idea that religion should be restricted to the private sphere. On the contrary, the problems of equal opportunity policies in these institutions demonstrate the relevance of religion in the public sphere, even in modern societies.

Dr.polit. Inger Furseth
(1954) is Research Associate at KIFO Centre for Church Research, Oslo, Norway. Her research is concerned with social and religious movements, religious diversity, politics and religion, and gender issues.

ISBN 82-519-1690-9. 109 pages. Published October 2001. Tapir Academic Press.
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