September 3, 2008
Tone became a Muslim and enjoys
the hijab. She advises Norwegian women to convert.
Tone Kristin Kara Ali (42) spoke last Saturday at a seminar about Islam at the
Hotel Opera in Oslo. She is a Norwegian women, works as a teacher and lives
as a Shia Muslim. Eight years ago she met a Shia Muslim Lebanese. Tone was
Christian then, and said that was the way she will stay.
"I said clearly that I have my faith and that it didn't agree with his
faith. Then I began to read a lot about it," she says.
Time passed and the woman from østfold, who had been very active in the
Christian community, began to be seriously enthusiastic about Islam. She felt
Islam was 'more logical' than Christianity.
Three years ago she got herself a hijab and covered most of her head.
Q: How was it to suddenly cover yourself as a Norwegian woman?
A: I didn't look forward to it. It is certainly not so easy in the beginning,
but it says in the Koran that I should do it. I must take the consequences of
my faith. I felt still that I lost my personality in the beginning, and that I
became very anonymous. But some as a convert I got compliments from the other
Muslim women. A Muslim should besides never look for compliments.
Tone stresses that her husband hadn't forced her at all to be Muslims and put
on a hijab, but says that he had taught her a lot about this religion. Together
they have a daughter of 16 months, but Tone has a daughter who's 18 who isn't a
Q: What does your daughter think of you being a Muslim?
A: It's not so easy for her, she answers shortly.
Q: What do you think of Norwegian women after you became a Muslim?
A: It's not so that I look down upon Norwegian women now. I don't want to
change them. But I want to change society.
Q: What is wrong with society?
A: things don't play a role any longer. Take for example this with clothing. A
16 year old girl who dresses like she's older, goes to a disco and doesn't have
full control over the possible consequences. For example rape. Could it have
been avoided if people had covered themselves? I believe that the number of
rapes could have been halved then. What is most important? To demand the right
to dress as one wants, or is it most important to protect oneself against a
But she makes it clear that she doesn't want to say that "all man are
After she became Muslim she encountered some obstacles in Norwegian society.
Among other things, in connection to the mass media and advertising.
"People shouldn't expose themselves, show themselves naked. There are
large parts of the body that shouldn't be seen. A moral dilemma for me is then
to watch TV. I'm provoked when I turn on the TV and look at what's broadcast,
especially on TV3. I must switch a lot."
Tone thinks that women should cover their hair and chin. She herself can show
her hands and feet. But she can't touch another men, so she can't shake hands.
A a man can't shake hands with a woman either.
Q: If you could change three things in society, what would they be?
A: I will forbid showing nakedness and sexualisation, prohibit sex as a means
in the public space (ads, film, TV etc). I will offer stronger and better
education about each other across majorities and minorities. I will set up
places where women can be without having men there, such as swimming pools etc.
Tone gladly lets herself be photographed, but for her it's strongly forbidden
to show pictures from when she lived as a Christian without a scarf.
Q: Are you happier now?
A: Yes, I am. I am much more secure.
Q: Are you oppressed?
A: Definitely not.
Q: Do you recommend that women submit to Islam?
A: Yes, I recommend that. Many will maybe then say, 'yes, this is right,'
Kari Vogt, associate professor of religious history at the University in Oslo
says that are about 1,000 Norwegians who have converted to Islam, but says that
the data is uncertain since the last study was done in the 1990s. There were
about 500 converts in 1995. But she says that we know that both Sweden and Denmark have more than Norway.
She says it's also certain that there's no reduction in the number of
Norwegians who turn to Islam.
Ashad Jamil, spokesperson for the Islamic Cultural Centre in Oslo confirms that several Norwegians had converted in their
mosque. "Yes, there's a conversion every once in a while. In the past
there were more men then women."
He's glad to see Norwegian convert.
"All are welcome. The mosque is open for everybody. I am certainly a
little curious as to what triggered the process. Their reasons vary a
Kari Vogt thinks many of the women marry with Muslim men and get inspiration
from there. She point out also that many of these female converts like the
fast, clear framework that Islam represents.
"They live in a sprawling world without standards. And then they find
this," she says and adds, "It's not common to be very conservative,
but some are."
After iOslo.no published the story of the Norwegian Muslim Tone Kristin Kara
Ali Saturday the responses came in thick and fast. One of those shocked was
Jøran Kallmyr (Frp), Oslo's council for welfare and social services.
Kallmyr thinks Tone's interview was far from decent reading. "The day we
must tell Norwegian girls that they must dress not to be raped, then we have
lost the most important thing in our society: freedom," he says to
Kallmyr points out that 2 out of every 3 rapists in Oslo are of 'non-Western' background. "This shows that
it can be something with the attitude towards women. Many of them have a poor
attitude towards women and perhaps don't respect Norwegian girls much - because
they don't cover themselves," he says.
Tone Kristin wishes to moderate her comments somewhat: "There is no
relation between being a Muslim and avoiding rape. A woman, regardless of how
little she's dressed, should have full respect. There isn't a case with rape
where I think that it's the woman's fault. It's always the attacker's
fault," she says and adds: "My point was personal. Do I wish to
secure myself or do I wish to support freedom to dress myself sensually? Everybody
should think about that."
Q: Should Muslims be allowed to dictate how people should dress in order to
A: A Muslim should not be allowed to dictate it. I am for every freedom. I wish
to convey that it isn't necessary to wear a scarf. I am not speaking of Muslim
Q: Ok. Do you think that Norwegians must cover themselves in order to avoid
A: No, I don't think that. But in practice I think that people reduce the
possibility if the skirt gets to the knees, and not right under one's behind.
People don't need to use a hijab for that. I don't think that people should be
Muslim in order to avoid being raped.
She points out that there are "many Muslim women in Muslim countries who
Jøran Kallmyr is not more impressed. "When we take in people from
countries where the rule is that a rape must be witnessed by five or six
witnesses, then we understand that it can be problematic."
He drives the point that sensual clothing are never the problem. "The
reason is always that somebody doesn't respect the other person. It's an evil
act," he says.
"The highly dangerous thing in Norwegian
society is the combination of men with little respect for women, combined with
a punishment system that doesn't put people in their place and gives on average
a little over two years for rape."
See also: Norway:
Women Against Shariah