OSLO - Norwegian Premier, Jens Stoltenberg, has appointed Hadia Tajik, a 29-year-old woman of Pakistani origin, as country’s culture minister, making her the youngest minister in the cabinet and Norway’s first Muslim in government.
She was also a political advisor to Norway's minister of justice and was elected to parliament, representing Oslo in 2009. The decision came as Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg reshuffled his cabinet on Friday.
Stoltenberg, trailing opposition leader Erna Solberg in popularity ratings, named 29-year-old Hadia Tajik as culture minister. Hadia, whose parents were born in Pakistan, will also be the only cabinet member of foreign descent.
The Muslim minister replaced Anniken Huitfeldt, who became the new minister of labor and social affairs. Stoltenberg also moved his foreign, defence and health ministers, and replaced the labor minister in a move seen as the last big effort to shape the team that would campaign for his Labour Party's third straight term. "We have made these changes to make room for new values, new force and new ideas," Stoltenberg told reporters after informing King Harald of the changes. "It is a combination of renewal and continuity."
Commenting on Tajik's appointment as culture minister, Stoltenberg said Tajik is a hardworking person with vast intellectual knowledge. Tajik said she was not expecting to be appointed to the post, but vowed to do her best in building on what her predecessors achieved. A former journalist, Tajik has been serving as a parliamentarian since 2009.
Norwegian Muslims are estimated at 150,000 out of the country's 4.5 million population, mostly of Pakistan, Somali, Iraqi and Moroccan backgrounds.
There are nearly 90 Muslim organizations and Islamic centers across the northern European country.