Norway populist party to leave government over repatriation of 'IS woman' and her children
Norway's populist Progress Party could leave the coalition government after the leading centre-right party agreed to take back an Islamic State group-linked woman and her two children from a detention camp in Syria.
The anti-immigration Progress Party, Norway’s third-largest, is one of Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s four coalition members, together with her Conservatives, the centrist Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats.
The 29-year-old Norweigan woman of Pakistani descent reportedly travelled to Syria in 2013 and married a Norwegian foreign fighter. He was later killed in fighting, while she and her family have been held in a camp since IS' defeat. One of her children is said to be ill.
"Many believe she used her child as a shield to come back to Norway. There are many in Norway who are displeased by this, not just in the Progress Party," said party leader Siv Jensen, who is also Norway's finance minister.
They complained they were not consulted when the decision was made to bring back the woman and her children home.
She was arrested upon her return on Saturday and was placed in an Oslo hospital with her two children.
"A majority in the government believed that the concern for the child was paramount," said Solberg,
The mother, who was not named, refused to let the sick child travel alone to Norway, which then allowed her to travel from the Kurdish-controlled Al-Hol camp, where they had been detained since March 2019.
Solberg and Jensen were to meet later Monday to discuss whether the Progress Party should remain in the government.
The coalition must muster a majority in the 169-seat Storting, or Parliament.
Solberg has been prime minister of Norway since 2013 when she formed a coalition with the Progress Party. The parties won renewed support for the steering the country in the 2017 election.
At least 500 children died at Al-Hol camp last year, where conditions are said to be worsening with the winter weather.