We hear relatively often these days about the large and growing Muslim communities in major European cities. Less frequently a subject of media attention in the U.S., however, is an equally significant phenomenon: the asylum centers that dot the landscape in many countries. In Norway alone, with a total population of only five million, there are a hundred or so such establishments around the country, some of them in largish cities, some in rural hamlets. In these centers reside individuals of foreign origin, mostly from the Muslim world, who are awaiting decisions about their applications for asylum. The places aren't locked. (Those who humbly propose locking them are routinely depicted by the political and cultural elite as inhuman bigots.) Consequently, they serve for many of their residents as handy bases from which they can venture out and plunder the locals. They are, in other words, Ground Zeroes for criminality. It should also be pointed out that many, if not most, of the people living in them have no legitimate right to asylum at all.
On Wednesday, November 27, a group of men who live in the Hvalsmoen asylum center on the outskirts of Hønefoss, a town in the southeastern Norwegian municipality of Ringerike, staged a protest against what they considered lousy meals and small portions in the cafeteria. The protesters, who numbered somewhere between 25 and 30 and hail from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Morocco, Somalia, and the Palestinian territories, vandalized their blue food trays, scrawling "Hungry strik" (which isn't correct in any language) and "Nei rasisme" on them (picture here), and marched into downtown Hønefoss, crying racism.