• FOTO: Katherine Seedell

No to foreign flags on 17th May

Pål Morten Borgli (Frp) wants to see a 17th May parade in Sandnes free of foreign flags.

"We don't want the 17th May to be a day for political statements. If we see Tibetan flags in the 17th May parade, we know what it's all about, but 17th May is not the day for such things," says Borgli.

He thinks that the misplaced use of foreign flags has crept in over recent years:

"I want a certain respect for the flag and for the values it represents, and that we continue the 17th May-tradition which is so unique to Norway," he says.

No ban


Despite a "no" to foreign flags, Borgli does not want to ban them.Til tross for et nei til utenlandske flagg, ønsker ikke Borgli å lage forbud mot utenlandske flagg.

"I am an eager protector of the right of speech, and through our petitions, people will be encouraged to use the Norwegian flag," says Borgli.

He also points to the value of a special Norwegian national day, where the Norwegian flag is the prime banner for symbols such as the constitution, democraty and freedom, and a continuation of Norwegian cultural history.

Borgli highlights Oslo where only Norwegian flags are allowed in the parade, and thinks the capital is one of the cities/towns which manages to keep up 17th May traditions and the symbols linked with the day.

To be dealt with at the meeting


The 17th May committee in Sandnes is to have a meeting next week, where the flag issue will be dealt with.

The committee leader, Knut O. Eldhuset (V) however, can see no major objections to today's practice which allows other flags in the 17th May parade.

"The 17th May committee in Sandnes is unanimous in their opinion that that this is ok, but we will look into the matter, and I will be surprised if the result turns out to be anything other than positive," he says and emphasizes the wish to include, and not to exclude.

"We can't imagine that the 17th May parade is Sandnes is going to drown in foreign flags," he says.

Important to mark living in Norway


In Stavanger, Pål Morten Borgli's Frp-colleague, Jens Jacob Dreyer is on the 17th May committee. He doesn't anticipate an Oslo model with a ban on foreign flags in Stavanger, but emphasizes that 17th May is a Norwegian celebration with Norwegian flags.

"This is not a political day, but a Norwegian national day. It's not an English day, and the Norwegian flag must dominate. At the same time, we welcome our immigrant friends, and encourage their participation in the celebration," says Dreyer.

Dreyer says that there was a time when a discussion took place about the use of flags in the 17th May parade in Stavanger, and it concluded by allowing other flags than the Norwegian.

"The 17th May is all about freedom, and are open for everything, but we live in Norway and need to mark that fact. There is no nationalism behind this, it's purely a positive thing," he says.

Should show Norway today in 2008


Dag Terje Klarp Solvang, leader of the 17th May-committee in Stavanger, thinks that the celebration of 17th May should show Norway as it is today in 2008.

"Norway consists of many nations, and Stavanger in particular, which is perhaps the country's most international town, should be coloured by this fact. If anyone wants to celebrate the day together with us with their own flag, it's fine. I think it's small-minded to say no to that," he says.

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