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Document.no is a Norwegian online magazine, described by some as a right-wing, social conservative website, which describes itself as a "website on politics, public debate, media criticism and culture." The website's founder and editor is Hans Rustad (born 1950), a native of Eidsvoll and a former journalist. The website holds positions that are critical towards some aspects of Islam and immigration, and often supportive of Israel. The National Library of Norway classifies document.no under "current periodicals," and as focusing on culture, politics and political science. The website was founded on 14 January 2003, and is owned by the limited company with the same name.
The website played a key part in breaking media exposure of the blasphemy bill proposed by the government in 2009, and the scandalous "Roma woman" feature by state broadcaster NRK in 2013. The site received global media attention in July 2011 as it turned out Anders Behring Breivik had posted user comments on the site.
History and impact
Document.no began publishing as a blog first on the 14th of January in 2003. It moved from having the form of a blog to being a news site, as more authors as Christian Skaug and Nina Hjerpset-Østlie joined in. Today it is referred to as an online magazine.
Government blasphemy bill
The website has been cited as the main player when for the first time in Norwegian history, in 2009 "bloggers" were credited for successfully setting the national political agenda. Document.no had criticized a government "blasphemy bill", a proposed extension of §185 with regards to "hate speech so that the provision protects the need for a criminal law protection against qualified attack on religions and belief." The proposed bill was met with nearly no exposure in the mainstream media, until close to a month later, although it had been criticizised as an attack on democracy in Danish newspapers. Eventually the bill became criticized as attacking freedom of speech, and an online petition against it was supported by numerous notable figures and organisations in Norway. The pressure caused the government to later retract the proposal.
NRK "Roma woman" feature
Nina Hjerpset-Østlie, writing for document.no was the first to break a scandal regarding an eight-minute news feature about a Roma woman in the state broadcaster NRK in January 2013. In the NRK-feature, Roma woman Mirela Mustata was presented as a victim of Norwegian law system prejudice against Roma people, however document.no could report that the woman who was presented as a victim had actually been convicted for co-conspiring to the rape of her own 11-year-old daughter, having received payment for it. It was later found that NRK had been aware of this, but not reported it in the feature. The case was gradually rolled up by other commentators and gained widespread reporting in mainstream media, causing a major scandal for NRK.
Media and commentators
Aftenposten described it in 2009 as "an Islam-critical and Israel-friendly, so-called blue-blog". Helge Øgrim, editor of Journalisten, the journal of the Norwegian Union of Journalists, in July 2011 described document.no as an "anti-immigrant forum which has evolved into a hotbed of galloping Islamophobia." Later, however, he opined in a comment on document.no that he might have gone too far in his criticism of Rustad. Lars Gule described it in the The Vancouver Sun as "a far-right web forum" that is "dominated by Islamophobic and anti-immigration commentary".[dead link] Writer on right-wing extremism Øyvind Strømmen has countered that the website is not far-right, instead describing the authors as "socially conservative immigration-opponents". The New York Times has described document.no as "a popular conservative Website."
Yvonne Rundberg Savosnick, the former chairman of the Norwegian Union of Jewish Students, mentioned the site in a 2009 feature with the student newspaper at the University of Oslo, Universitas, because of its "critical view of the Norwegian press," although she stateed that she "rarely agreed with everything" on the website. The Norwegian conservative Muslim commentator Mohammad Usman Rana has called document.no "a right-wing populist and Muslimphobic interest group".
In 2011, Hans Rustad complained to the Professional Committee of the Press over an article in the local newspaper Eidsvoll Ullensaker Blad, which described Rustad as a chief exponent of the "brown goo", stating that "it does not matter what the spill call themselves, this is very similar to Nazism" and concluding that "we do not want Behring Breivik, Rustad and other nutjobs to set the agenda". The committee criticized the article, emphasizing that it mostly discouraged the use of the term "Nazi" when referring to individuals.
Anders Behring Breivik
Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, reportedly posted numerous posts on Document.no and praised the blog owner. According to the BBC, "Anders Behring Breivik left racist, extremist right-wing comments along with fellow anti-Muslims" on the site. He also attended an open meeting of "Documents venner" (Friends of Document), affiliated with the website, in the fall of 2009. Breivik sought to start a Norwegian version of the Tea Party movement in cooperation with the owners of document.no, who initially expressed interest but ultimately turned down his proposal because he did not have the contacts he promised. When Breivik was named as the arrested, the website became unreachable due to an extreme increase in traffic. The blog owner distanced himself from the terrorist attack.
In 2013 Bjørn Stærk, a columnist in Aftenposten, said that the most controversial contents of the website "are the guest articles. Geert Wilders has had several articles. Julia Caesar had an article about African immigrants' low intelligence. Critics use this as evidence that the editorial board of Document are racists and haters of Islam. At the same time there is nothing in the commentaries by the website's permanent writers, which indicate this".
- Dagbladet 4 February 2009, "Bloggere senket regjeringens blasfemi-forslag"
- Norge i Dag 21 December 2012, "En ikke-representative elite domminerer nyhetsbildet"
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