Norway gets first Muslim minister in cabinet reshuffle

A young woman has become the first Muslim named a minister in Norway as Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg reshuffled his cabinet.


Stoltenberg, trailing opposition leader Erna Solberg in popularity ratings, named 29-year-old Hadia Tajik as culture minister, making her the youngest-ever cabinet member as well as the first Muslim in the cabinet. Tajik, 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, defense 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.