Youthful rebellion and, paradoxically, a perceived need for stronger rules in Norway's liberal society are believed to be behind a recent rise in the number of Norwegians converting to Islam. "I think we need stronger rules," one young Norwegian convert told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday.
No one knows for certain how many "ethnic Norwegians" have converted to Islam, according to Aftenposten, but researchers believe their numbers have increased from around 500 at the end of the 1990s to around 3,000 today. That's still a tiny percentage of the Norwegian population, but the growth rate is significant, as is the perceived reason behind it: "Converting to Islam is perhaps the most extreme form of youthful rebellion today," Anne Sofie Roald, a professor in religion, told Aftenposten, which launched a series of reports over the weekend about Islam in Norway. Islam, Roald noted, is a religion that can require a lifestyle for converts that's "extremely different from the life they've lived earlier."