Saudi Arabia has condemned Norway’s human rights record, saying the country has failed to protect its Muslim citizens by not restricting the criticism of Prophet Mohammed. The Gulf state demanded that all criticism of Islam and Prophet Mohammed be banned in Norway. Additionally, Saudi Arabia expressed concern over the rising numbers of rape crime, domestic violence and inequitable distribution of wealth in Norway, asserting that hate crimes against Muslims still prevail.
Norway was scrutinized during the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review, where 14 states were called upon to have their human rights records examined.
Russia too, called for Norway to curb many instances of religious intolerance, criticizing the Scandinavian country’s child welfare system and existing correctional facilities that do not seem to adhere by international standards.
In response to the assessment, Norwegian foreign minister Borge Brende said, “It is a paradox that countries which do not support fundamental human rights have influence on the council, but that is the United Nations.” Brende was present in Geneva to receive feedback about its human rights records from 91 other countries.
According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia itself stepped up arrests and trials of peaceful dissidents and responded with force to demonstrations by citizens in 2012. The report said, “Authorities continue to suppress or fail to protect the rights of 9 million Saudi women and girls and 9 million foreign workers. As in past years, thousands of people have received unfair trials or been subject to arbitrary detention. The year has seen trials against half-a-dozen human rights defenders and several others for their peaceful expression or assembly demanding political and human rights reforms.”