Apartheid row at Norwegian school after it segregates ethnic pupils
A political row has broken out in Norway after a secondary school segregated students with ethnic backgrounds in classes away from white Norwegians.
The decision only came to the parents' notice earlier this month after Avtar Singh, a Punjabi Norwegian, confronted Gro Flaten, the school's headmistress, on why his son, Gurjot, had no ethnic Norwegian classmates.
"She said straight out that the school had experienced ethnic Norwegian students dropping out if they weren't grouped together in smaller classes," he told Dagsavisen newspaper.
Mrs Flaten told The Daily Telegraph: "We made the decision because many Norwegian students were moving to other schools because they were in classes with such a high percentage of students from other nations. They seemed to be in a minority."
Students at the school have expressed their anger at the segregation. "This is apartheid. They do this because I'm from Africa and my father is from Africa," said Ilias Mohamed, 17, from Somalia, who was part of the immigrant-only class. "But everyone of us is a Norwegian."
Hibba Tudorache, 18, whose parents came to Norway from Romania, said: "The students are really mad about this. It's an insult to those of us who are from other countries. It's discriminatory to put the white Norwegian people before us."
But Helena Skagen, 18, the head girl at the school, said she understood what the school authorities had been trying to do.
"They had the best intentions. They just wanted to keep the Norwegian students at the school. But they now know that what they did was wrong because you can't split the students according to their culture," she said.
Mr Wright added that he believed that the shadow of Anders Breivik, the anti-Islamic extremist who massacred 77 people in Oslo in July, had made discussions of immigration difficult in Norway.
"I think it's a very emotional discussion because of what happened in July, and for that reason politicians don't want to enter the discussion at all, because they are afraid," he said.