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August 1, 2011

Terrorism in Norway – how to avoid it in the future?

On Friday July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year old son of a Norwegian diplomat, planted a car bomb at a government building in Oslo, which killed eight, before driving to the island of Utoya, northwest of the capital, to shoot another 68 people dead and injure countless more at a Labour Party youth camp. The victims were all Norwegians including children of the immigrants. Breivik was later arrested by the Norwegian police, and confessed to the mass slaughter. Initially it was reported that 75 people were killed at Utoya island. On Utoya shooting victim died on July 29 raising the death toll to 77.

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

If Australia is the ‘land down under,' then surely Norway is the ‘land up above' with the sun never completely descending beneath the horizon in areas north of the  Arctic Circle during the summer months of May-July (and hence the more common name ‘Land of the Midnight Sun').

Norway has a history of active pacifism that while being anti-war has never meant being apolitical. During the World Wars (WW) I and II, the country maintained a neutral stance. And yet, during the WW I it suffered heavy losses to its shipping, and was occupied for five years by the Third Reich during the WW II. In 1949, partly due to its failure to maintain its traditional policy of neutrality in the war, Norway became a founding member of the NATO and the UN.

It is this activism in international affairs, which catapulted Norway to take a leading role in hosting the Oslo Accords (1993) towards resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Accords affirmed a Palestinian right of self-government within the Occupied Territories through the creation of a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority. Palestinian rule was to last for a five-year interim period during which “permanent status negotiations” would commence - no later than May 1996 - in order to reach a final agreement based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, and 338, an integral part of the whole peace process. As we all know by now, Israel, through a series of terrorist and criminal activities (namely, the massacre of praying Palestinians in Masjid Ibrahimi in Hebron by a Zionist terrorist Baruch Goldstein, criminal blockades and the illegal settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories), sabotaged the true intent and purpose of the Accords. It was this implosion of hatred of the ‘other' people which ultimately led to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, a signatory to the peace Accords, by another Zionist terrorist.

In recent months, while the Obama Administration of the USA has been trying to blackmail the Palestinian people, threatening to Veto their cause in the UN, Norway and its progressive leadership have been reclaiming its global leadership by endorsing their “perfectly legitimate” aspirations to live as a free nation. “We will consider very carefully the proposed text that's to be put forward by the Palestinians in the coming weeks,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas beside him at a press conference. Stoere however left little doubt about his inclination. “I don't think that any Palestinians or anybody around the world are in doubt that Norway supports Palestinians' right to statehood,” he said. “That has to be accompanied by a process of negotiation, which at the moment is stalling.”

He and Abbas signed a document upgrading the Palestinian Authority's representative in Norway to ambassadorial rank, as several other European nations have done.

It is probably this aspiring moral leadership role in the global arena, which triggered the latest carnage what was to become Norway 's worst calamity in the post WW II era. On Friday July 22, Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year old son of a Norwegian diplomat, planted a car bomb at a government building in Oslo, which killed eight, before driving to the island of Utoya, northwest of the capital, to shoot another 68 people dead and injure countless more at a Labour Party youth camp. The victims were all Norwegians including children of the immigrants. Breivik was later arrested by the Norwegian police, and confessed to the mass slaughter.

Breivik followed the acrimonious American debate over Islam

Published reports, including Breivik's own Internet postings, show that he was a fundamentalist Christian-Zionist zealot who had closely followed the acrimonious American debate over Islam, and was poisoned by the hateful blogs and writings of pro-Israeli, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim provocateurs in America, Europe and India. In his 1500-page manifesto he wrote that he acquired some 8,000 e-mail addresses of “cultural conservatives” not just across Europe but North America, Australia, South Africa, Armenia, Israel, and India  – ensuring scrutiny of anti-Muslim groups far beyond Europe.

Breivik's primary goal was to remove Muslims from Europe. But his manifesto calls for a military cooperation with Jewish groups in Israel, Buddhists in China, and Hindu nationalist groups in India to contain Islam. He referenced India dozens of times. He lists the websites of the BJP ( Bharatiya Janata Party), the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the NVO ( National Volunteers ' Organisation ), the ABVP ( Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad ) and the VHP ( Vishwa Hindu Parishad) as resources for further information about his bigotry. He included a five-page paper written by a man named Shrinandan Vyas -- a Hindutvadi extremist provocateur dedicated to distorting history and seeding anti-Muslim hatred (and, thus, providing the intellectual basis for the BJP's politics of hatred and bigotry), who had falsely accused Muslims of committing genocide in the Hindu Kush. [As I have shown some years ago, the name Hindu Kush predates the emergence of Muslims into the territory.] He applauds Hindu groups who “do not tolerate the current injustice and often riot and attack Muslims when things get out of control.” “It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical,” he wrote.

Breivik frequently posted his comments in several Norwegian internet sites, including the, which is run by Hans Rustad, an extremist pro-Zionist Jew who warns against ‘Islamisation' of Europe by Muslims. [As noted elsewhere by Gilad Atzmon, Islamophobes like Hans Rustad and Harry Place of the UK won't criticize the Jewish Lobbies, the Lord Levy's or the Russian Oligarchs' disastrous impact on ‘Western culture' or on ‘democratic values' any time soon.] Breivik has said that the Dutch Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, the third-largest in the Netherlands and an informal member of the ruling coalition, is the only “true” conservative party in Europe. He also wrote approvingly of Stop Islamization of Europe and Pamela Geller, leader of its sister organization in the USA, who has been a leading figure in efforts to block the so-called   Ground Zero mosque.

It is also obvious that Breivik did not operate in the vacuum and had a support group. His manifesto says he is among 12 “knights” fighting within a dozen regions in Europe and the US, but not India . His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch website, 64 times, and cited other Western writers like Mark Steyn who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.

Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among websites. Pamela Geller runs Atlas Shrugs. The Gates of Vienna is a blog that owes its name to the siege of Vienna in 1683 by Muslims who, the blog says in its head note, ‘seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe.' This was echoed in the title Breivik chose for his manifesto: ‘2083: A European Declaration of Independence.' He chose that year, the 400th anniversary of the siege, as the target for the triumph of Christian forces in the European civil war he called for to drive out Islamic influence.

How real is the ‘threat' from Muslims in Europe?

How real is that ‘threat' from Muslims in Europe, especially in Breivik's native country? The Muslim population in Europe is approximately 4 percent, and may not rise above 6 percent by the next decade and level out thereafter. According to EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, of the 498 terrorist incidents in 2006, only 1 was accused of Muslims. The data for subsequent years (2006-2010) are 4, 0, 1 and 3 out of 583, 515, 294, and 249, respectively. That is, a whopping 99.6% of terrorist attacks in Europe were by non-Muslim groups.

Norway has a population of 4.92 million of which nearly 4.04 million (82 %) are ethnic Norwegians, a figure that has steadily decreased since the late 20th century. [Currently there are more than 4 million Norwegian Americans living inside the USA.] Of the remaining 18 % population, 600,922 (12.2%) are either i mmigrants or Norwegians born to immigrant parents, and 282,082 ( 5.7%) have at least one ethnic Norwegian parent (including foreign born). Of this non-Norwegian immigrant community 48% is from other European countries (namely, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Russia and Lithuania). The Asians (including Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Turks), Africans, and others (people from the Americas and Oceania) comprise only 4.26%, 1.5% and 0.62%, respectively, of the total population. The Muslim population is estimated to be 100,000, or roughly 2% of the total population, or 11% of the non-Norwegian community living in Norway. It is simply absurd to believe that such a meager number, mostly engaged in low-paying menial jobs in Norway, would destroy the Norwegian culture in what has been wrongly dubbed in 2009 as ‘stealth Islamization' by Siv Jensen, the leader of the Progressive Party.

To understand Breivik's terrorism, we must, thus, look into the selection of his targets. Much like the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by an anti-government militant, Breivik targeted government buildings in Oslo. He also targeted a youth camp that had held “BOIKOTT ISRAEL ” sign. Why? It is not difficult to connect the dots here. To understand his ideology of hatred that enticed him to terrorism, we have to look into his manifesto that provides ample of citations from anti-Muslim bloggers.

Automatic weapons and potent bombs allow the deranged and begrudged to slaughter scores of innocents in mere seconds. There are several examples of such mayhems at the University of Texas in 1966 (14 killed), Columbine High School in 1999 (13 killed), Virginia Tech in 2007 (32 killed), and Bath School disaster of 1927 in which an angry school board member blew up 38 children and 6 adults in Michigan. We also forget that most threats and violence tend to emerge from within a society and not from outside it. M.K. Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, King Faysal, Anwar el-Sadat, Indira Gandhi and Yitzhak Rabin were all assassinated by their fellow countrymen, and not by outsiders.

Rightwing extremist groups

In the past two decades, much attention has been paid to extremist groups within the world Muslim community, while the potential terrorism from local rightwing extremist groups was ignored. Consequently, just about every ‘expert' -- conservative chatterer with a blog or a Twitter account rushed to blame ‘Islamic jihadists' for the bombing and gun massacre in Norway only to be proven wrong later. Just as in Norway, rightwing extremism could easily happen anywhere in our world. The Hutaree, an extremist Christian militia in Michigan accused last year of plotting to kill police officers and planting bombs at their funerals, had an arsenal of weapons larger than all the Muslim plotters charged in the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks combined.

A Norwegian citizen with Norwegian parents slaughtered some 93 of his countrymen (which included teenagers) whom he considered in his twisted logic as traitors for supporting multiculturalism (and therefore Islamization). Its government must now answer: why it didn't pay more attention to the threat of domestic terrorism, especially given the fact that, according to Breivik's   1,500-page manifesto, he spent a decade planning his attacks. And why did it take police so long to respond to the shootings at the summer camp?

Inflammatory political rhetoric

A more important issue is the growing intolerance across Europe for Muslims and other immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East . Inflammatory political rhetoric is increasingly tolerated not just in Holland, Denmark and France, but across all of Europe and America. Even Asiatic countries like India, Israel, Burma, Thailand and the Philippines are not free from such hateful messages. Look at the sheer number of anti-Muslim books, movies, TV dramas and websites that emerged in the post-9/11 era! And anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic parties are getting stronger notably in northern European countries that have long had liberal immigration policies.

While individuals are responsible for their actions, there is no denying about the harmful influence of hateful provocateurs which mold their beliefs and justify their criminal actions. For years, many morally bankrupt and utterly corrupt politicians have had nothing better to offer their constituents other than distributing anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant pills. Hatred sells, as it did in Hitler's Germany. As there were once Julius Streicher and Der Stürmer in Germany (1923-45), so are there now hate-mongers and psychopaths like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly of the radio and TV journalism in the USA, let alone thousands of pen-pushing anti-Muslim bigots like Mark Steyn and Ann Coulter who sell their poison pills to divide our world into hateful camps. Look at the shameful statements made by mainstream Republican politicians with respect to the mosque controversy in Lower Manhattan. Outside the Mayor Bloomberg of New York City hardly any politician had the moral bites to decry such bigotry. This xenophobia is even packaged, promoted and propagated by Rupert Murdoch's media empire and other anti-Muslim right-wing tabloids.

There are think-tanks, dedicated to promoting hatred and bigotry against Muslims. Nor should one forget about the impact of Jerusalem Summit in packaging hatred to the rest of the world.

Islam as ‘enemy' is a staple of European political discourse

In the 1980s, Jean-Marie le Pen of the French National Front, at the time a marginal politician, was one of the first to vituperate against the risk of Islamicization. Today, Islam as ‘the internal and external enemy' is a staple of European political discourse. Anti-Muslim sentiment has now passed the dinner-table test to become socially acceptable. What message is the public getting out of such unambiguous displays of intolerance? In Europe, even mainstream politicians have sown doubts about the ability or willingness of Europe to absorb newcomers. At a security conference in Munich Feb. 5, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain closed ranks with French and German leaders saying the ‘doctrine of multiculturalism' has failed in a Britain that encourages “different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream.” Multiculturalism ‘has failed, utterly failed, Mrs. Merkel said last October amid a national debate sparked by a racially loaded bestseller written by German bank official Thilo Sarrazin that criticized Arabs. Last summer French leader  Nicolas Sarkozy said multiculturalism was dead as the French cracked down on immigrants and Gypsies.

I wonder if these politicians understand the difference between assimilation and integration or multiculturalism! What they truly want is not integration but blind, robotic assimilation, bereft of discernible cultural values that define one's humanity and diversity. So to an intellectual midget like Sarkozy, it is the abandonment of the burqa and niqab that defines integration into the French society, and not the much-needed reforms that are essential for integrating Muslims.

There are many third generation Turks and Algerians living in Germany and France, respectively, who are still not integrated into those societies, treated as being outsiders. Unless one's parents are ethnic French or German, the roads to employment and upward social mobility are often nil for these grandchildren of immigrants from Asia and Africa. Consequently, they are forced to live in the ghettos or poor neighborhoods where public sector is dysfunctional. They routinely face bitter discrimination and witness monumental hypocrisy with almost everything. Unfortunately, when rioting exploded in France 's heavily-immigrant ghettos, many conservative pundits and politicians refused to see the obvious and dismissed claims that the violence had something to do with poverty, unemployment, and exclusion. No, what mattered is that the rioters were Muslims. And then blame it on failure of multiculturalism!

If these western governments had invested in human capital, creation of jobs and ensured equal opportunities, there won't have been any problem integrating pale-brown and dark-skinned immigrants and their children and grandchildren, irrespective of whether or not they are Muslims.

Hatemongering provocateurs are no better than terrorists

Hatemongering provocateurs, who are no better than terrorists, have long been selling their poison pills of Eurabia - how Muslims soon will take over Europe, if they are not checked. The neocon ideologue Daniel Pipes discovered Jihad in the 2005 riots of France. Similarly, Mark Steyn wrote, “As France this past fortnight reminds us, the changes in Europe are happening far faster than most people thought.” In 2006, Steyn expanded his delusional paranoia into the book America Alone. As you can guess, it was a huge hit, a New York Times bestseller, amongst many delusional readers. Not surprisingly, the dim-witted former president George W. Bush is a fan. In Republican and Tea Party circles, Steyn's vision of an enfeebled, infertile Europe overrun by fecund, violent Muslims is almost a truism. But to his dismay, no such ‘Eurabian civil war' has been started by ‘wide-eyed' Muslim ‘Jihadists.' Instead, what we find is the terrorism of brain-washed white Europeans. For people like Steyn, that is more than enough. Tell a true story, treat it as typical (and not an exception) and then draw a scary conclusion. This is the standard operating procedure of alarmists like Steyn.

It is high time that these provocateurs, who have brainwashed terrorists like Breivik, denounce Breivik's evil and apologize to Muslims. They simply cannot skirt off their responsibility for his heinous crime. The western government agencies need to investigate the activities of groups like the Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs, Stop Islamization of Europe (and America), and Jerusalem Summit that promote bigotry and xenophobia, and offer the justification for terrorism. They must also follow the trail of money that comes to these hate groups.

In a society where anti-Islamic xenophobic sentiments and open bigotry are tolerated, there will be hateful zealots who would feel legitimized in taking criminal measures. The government must make it clear that there is no room for such chauvinism in this age. They must also know that political opportunism, by tying knots with groups that are openly racists and bigots, much like what has happened in places like Israel and Denmark, is not a viable option and can actually do more harm than good.

As I have noted many times, Europe has never been able to shelve its innate Fascistic leaning that has defined much of its history. It is no accident that there are too many far right parties that draw upon two distinct constituencies. The first is a core of hardline racist bigots who are willing crusaders for neo-Nazi Fascism. These bigots, however, have been joined by a swathe of new supporters (the second group) whose hostility toward immigrants, minorities and Muslims is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity. They are dissatisfied with their lives, anxious about the future and distrustful of any authority figure. As noted by some area experts, there is little that can be done to sway the opinions of the hardline racists.   This does not mean pandering to their prejudices. It means, to the contrary, challenging those prejudices openly and robustly. It means, for instance, challenging their false idea that immigration is responsible for the lack of jobs and housing, or that lower immigration would mean a lower crime rate, or that Western societies are becoming “Islamized.”

Truly, the western governments should have an open and honest debate about why immigration is important for their very survival in this age. It may be a great idea that when their leaders visit New York for attending the UN sessions that they should opt for taking a ride in a taxicab, driven by a naturalized citizen of the USA, to places like Queens in New York City and Edison in New Jersey to get a flavor of what multiculturalism truly means.

As noted by the erudite Shaykh Abdal Qadir, every year on November 11, the masses gather around the Cenotaph in London for the sacred silence. On the Cenotaph is carved the new creed of humanism: “One day we will understand.”

It is time for the Europeans to recognize the new realities of our time – globalization and multiculturalism. Embrace them right or be left out in the dustbin of history!

Dr. Habib Siddiqui is a peace activist based in USA.