Lena Larsen

Director The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Image of Lena Larsen
Norwegian version of this page
Phone 22842045
Mobile phone 91624823

I am an historian of religion by education from the University of Oslo, Cand. Mag (first cycle degree) with the subjects Spanish, Arabic and art history (1987), Cand Philol (Second cycle degree) with history of religion and Arabic, and with the thesis Welcome to a large family. Islam and conversion in the Norwegian context (1995). I defended my PhD dissertation in 2011. The dissertation is the basis for How Muftis Think. Islamic Legal Thought and Muslim Women in Western Europe (BRILL 2018). The focus of the book is how muftis think when they give fatwas to questions from Muslim women in Western Europe.

In the capacity of being the director of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief since 1999, I have contributed to the development of a principled thinking on the promotion of freedom of religion and belief: That freedom of religion and belief is a good for all, and that no one should be discriminated against or exposed to harmful practices because of religion or belief; that the right to freedom of religion and belief is connected with other rights in many and hitherto unexplored fields, including freedom of religion and gender justice, freedom of religion and freedom of expression and freedom of religion and children's rights. Experience from the Oslo Coalition's work has also taught me the importance and role of academia in promoting freedom of religion and belief through knowledge building, publishing and competence building.

I have been coordinating the project New Directions in Islamic Thought with esteemed colleagues since 2003, and co-edited the publications New Directions in Islamic Thought. Exploring Reform and Muslim Tradition (2009), Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law. Justice and Ethics in the Islamic Legal Tradition (2013), and Freedom of Expression in Islam. Challenging Blasphemy and Apostasy Laws (2021). I am currently working with the project: New Directions in Islamic Thought. The best Interest of the Child.

Research interests

  • Islam in Europe
  • Islamic jurisprudence with focus on fatwas
  • Islam and gender
  • Freedom of religion or belief
  • Islamic art

Member of

  • editorial board, Journal of Muslims in Europe
  • the advisory committee for a continuing education program for religious leaders with a foreign background, Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo,.

Selected Lectures

25.-26.06.18 ‘Islam and Marriage in the West. The case of France’ at the conference Reformulating Matrimony in Islamic law. New Questions and Responses among Muslims in Europe. The Oxford Research Centre for Humanities, University of Oxford.

20.08.15: ‘Islam, Reform and Modernity. Religious Reasoning and common modern Morality’. Key note lecture in Muslim and Islam in European Modernity, research seminar at Durham university, UK.

18.12.10 ‘Muslim and European Values: Is there a real Incompatibility?’ Conference in Barcelona by CEOM (Conseil Européen des Ouléma Marocains), Brussels, in partnership with the Union of Cultural and Islamic centres in Cataluña, Barcelona, Spain

03.12.10 Panellist with Leyla Ahmed, presented ‘The Muslim Woman and Feminism: A Voice of her own’, Feminist Forum, MIRA-senteret, Resource Centre for Migrant Women

08.09.10 ‘Hijab: A Human Right, a Symbol of Religious Identity or Suppression?’ IMDI-seminar at the launch of the report of At Home in Europe: Muslims in Europe: A Report on 11 EU Cities

26.05.10 ‘Does Religion have to be Respected?’ Cultural Complexity in the New Norway seminar, University of Oslo, House of Literature

27.03.07 ‘Fiqh Facing Everyday Challenges: The Contemporary Discourse on Islam and Women in a Historical Perspective’ at ‘Problems of the Muslim World and their Treatment within the Context of Globalization’, The XIX Conference of the The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Ministry of Endowment, Egypt



Tags: Human Rights, Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), The Oslo Coalition
Published Jan. 20, 2009 9:28 AM - Last modified Mar. 15, 2021 10:19 AM