Born in Norway to Pakistani parents, Abid Q. Raja studied law, criminology, and psychology at the universities of Oslo, Southampton, and Oxford, and later worked in Norway at several law firms, the Immigration Appeals Board, and the Police Department's Immigration Office. He was also active in groups with names like the Center against Ethnic Discrimination, the Council for Crime Prevention, and the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.
In 1999, Raja began to appear frequently on Norwegian TV and in the newspaper op-ed pages as a commentator on immigration and integration issue and as a spokesman for the nation's Muslims. As it happens, that was the same year I moved to Norway, so I've followed his entire public career. During those early years, Raja came off as angry and radical. In 2004, while serving as a spokesman for an Oslo mosque called World Islamic Mission, he argued that the Norwegian government should pay to build a school in Pakistan for the children of Pakistani Muslims living in Norway.