Less than a week after the Norway terrorist attacks, launched in retribution for the country’s pro-Muslim immigration policies, a surprising number of British commentators have warned against reigniting discussions on the viability of European multiculturalism.
Such debate, of course, formed part of the official introspective narrative that consumed Britain after the 2005 London bombings. Yet for many, the difference between then and now is al Qaeda’s acknowledged involvement in 7/7.
Today, hiding behind an apologist rhetoric that claims aversion to any exploitation of the July 22 massacres by political point-scoring opportunists, many refuse to contemplate how Anders Behring Breivik’s actions followed a script not too dissimilar to that of al Qaeda.
The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins, a veteran and well-respected journalist, says that while the 2003 invasion of Iraq constituted terrorism, “killing Norwegian teenagers (not Muslims) to express some vague hatred for society is not. It is merely deranged.” But this was no vague hatred, as underscored by the targeting of the country’s political ruling political party — and its future generation — that Breivik saw as willingly complicit in subjugating the national culture to that of an Islamic one.
Thus Jenkins also rejects moves to try and dissect Breivik’s manifesto since “we do not need a mass killing in Norway to know that right-wing groups are distasteful and xenophobic.” In addition, he believes that to suggest possible links between such organisations merely feeds the hysteria, “publicising what is best ignored.”
Breivik posted his 1,500-page manifesto online and in English. Some believe that such is the fluency of language that he most likely enlisted the help of a native speaker to polish his message. Indeed, this document — “2083: A Declaration of European Independence” — could be described as not being too dissimilar to Inspire, the English-language e-zine published by al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. The latter aims to appeal to naturalised citizens already living in the West. Instead of enrolling in combat duty on the AfPak battlefield, they are encouraged to act as lone wolves and are shown how to assemble home-made bombs to wreak vengeance directly on enemy land.
The first portion of Breivik’s manifesto sets up the ideological context for his mission by lambasting Europe’s cultural elite for allowing Islam to take root in the continent. Even the title is significant, representing what would be the 400th anniversary of the siege of Vienna by Muslim fighters. The latter portion outlines the practical ways of acquiring weapons, ammunition and body armour. The objective? To “use terror as a method for waking up the masses” to the danger posed by Islam. And just as Breivik targeted the Norwegian state apparatus, so too, has al Qaeda urged Muslims to target so-called ‘apostate’ regimes that have sided with ‘infidel’ western governments.
But it is not just this that renders Jenkins irresponsible when he criticises UK Prime Minister David Cameron for ordering a review of far-right groups in the country.
Just like al Qaeda has forged links with other groups, Breivik — a supporter of the Norwegian Defence League (NDL) — hooked up with its British counterpart, the English Defence League (EDL). According to Searchlight magazine, a British anti-fascist publication, Breivik was reportedly Facebook friends with dozens of EDL and British Nationalist Party members. He was granted permission to attend an EDL march after expressing a wish to show solidarity with the group. But, says Searchlight, the links go even deeper. The NDL Facebook page is managed by a leading EDL organiser. In addition, Breivik’s favourite Norwegian anti-Muslim blogger, who goes by the pseudonym Fjordman and warns of an imminent multicultural world war, is a strong supporter of the EDL and an acquaintance of the man, described as a Christian fundamentalist, who helped set up and funded the EDL.
Let us hope that this refusal to see Breivik as anything other than an isolated madman is born of naïve myopia. And not of the belief that only those who harm us deliberately are terrorists.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.