Oslo Mayor, Fabian Stang in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times
Richard Fabian Stang is the mayor of Oslo. He is a member of the Conservative Party. He was first elected Mayor of Oslo in 2007. He was reelected in 2011. Stang, a lawyer, is the son of the celebrated Norwegian actress, Wenche Foss. Hatef Mokhtar, the Editor-in-Chief of The Oslo Times, conducted an exclusive interview with Stang on various aspects regarding the Oslo and what makes it a unique city to live in.
The Excerpts below give us an insight into the interesting talk that followed: Thank you sir, for agreeing to do this Interview with us today. Before we start could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: My name is Fabian Stang. I am 60-year old. And I am the mayor of Oslo. I have been in the office for eight years now.
Oslo is considered as one of the best cities to live in,can you tell our readers a little bit about the city and how it has developed into a model city to live in?
A: Oslo is the biggest city in the World, with six hundred-fifty thousand inhabitants. And the city is growing very fast. When I was born, there were not more than four hundred thousand people living here. However, in 1980 the population reached to approximately eight hundred thousand, which means the city’s population doubled during my life and is growing. This means we have to build a lot of kindergarten schools as well as homes. So it’s a lot of busy time in Oslo and the economy has been good. It means we would be able to build a new opera house and a new national museum of art. We built a lot of new schools. Only this ,last year, 14 new schools were built and our small towns. If we don’t succeed when it comes to our schools and education for everybody, then we will have problems in the future. Therefore, education is the most important task.
Oslo These days is home to a lot of the migrant population, infact there are many people from various ethnic backgrounds who have been living here for the past three to four decades, what is your view on multiculturalism in Oslo?
The nice thing we have started about is the new kids is playing with a new friend and his parents are asking about his new friend when he is coming home. Of course, they want to know if his new friend was a brown and perhaps he is a Muslim. And then the young boy says that I comprehend and then go to out to see and that’s how we want to be in Oslo and want people to be accepted as individuals depending on their background, their religions, sexual orientations, or whatever. Everybody should have a chance to succeed in Oslo.
How do you see the relationship that the Oslo municipality shares with other municipalities?
Stang: We see that hopefully we are able to show how to integrate people and how to succeed when it comes to respect for every individual. A lot of people who don’t feel that they are part of the society in parts of Norway then they move to Oslo because they feel it’s easier to live in Oslo and then we want them to stay for a while or stay for the rest of their life if they want. And the nice thing will be when they stay for a while and then go back to other cities and say that they can do it in Oslo let’s do it again.
Many Norwegians are worried about the rise of extremism in Norway, what is your biggest concern on the surge of extremism—both Islamic extremism and political extremism?
Stang: I think the crime among youngsters in Oslo is dropping dramatically. A lot of the young immigrants are successful and they are doing school and then of course some of them end up as extremists. I think the only thing we can do is to be sure we follow every child through their stay in the kindergarten and in school to prevent them from dropping out, let them feel they are not successful in the society and therefore they want to do something else.
Across the World still there too many dictatorial regimes in Africa and in parts of Asia, where human rights are denied and journalists are tortured and jailed. What is your message?
Stang: I believe that it is possible to change this World to be a better place to live in through dialogue. I love to have guests coming to Oslo. And then I tell them that when we celebrate our national day, we celebrate it with our children. Our children are our weapons. We don’t display any bombs or weapons on our national day. And the nice thing is that I think it will be more difficult to have such kind of regimes in the coming years because of the internet.
Let me ask you one particular question. We ask this question from all our guests. It’s about Human Rights. What Human Rights mean to you?
Stang: Human right means respect for every individual. No one should fear what they say, what they mean, and what they think and how they behave as long as they respect other people. I think nothing can beautifully depict it like this saying that I don’t agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
(Interviewed by Hatef Mokhtar, Editor-in-Chief)
(Written and edited by Rooh-ul-Amin, Deputy Bureau Chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan)
All Rights Reserved with The Oslo Times