Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norway: Blaming Muslims - Yet Again

With at least 92 people dead and several injured, the brutality of Friday's attacks in Norway left the country reeling.

But who to blame for the bomb blast that tore through Oslo's government district and the shooting spree that left scores of teenagers dead at a youth summer camp in nearby Utoya?
Moments after the explosion that, as of Saturday night, left seven dead, pundits and analysts alike had assigned blame to al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda-like group (a close approximation will do, one can suppose).
There were also reports of a group calling the Helpers of the Global Jihad either claiming responsibility for the attack or lending it support to whoever carried it out. The group retracted its rather vague statement on Saturday. 

Norwegian police, meanwhile, concluded fairly early on that the attacks weren't the work of a foreign terrorist group. They have 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik in custody - he is believed to be the gunman who opened fire on the teenagers attending a youth camp organised by the Labour Party. 

It's also been reported that Breivik bought six tonnes of fertiliser in May from a farm supply firm, which seems to take a page right out of another non-Muslim terrorist's handbook: Timothy McVeigh, who along with Terry Nichols, blew up the Alfred P Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 with a truckload of fertiliser, killing 168 and injuring 450.

Still, despite the initial lack of evidence shortly after the attack - and a growing stack of evidence pointing to the contrary later - some continued to look for a "jihadist" connection in the Norway attacks. Some looked for a link between the attacks and the anger that erupted after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

Local Muslims: 'Deep sorrow' 
This hits the Muslim community in Norway in two different ways - first, their sense of security is threatened as much as any other Norwegian. On top of that, they are automatically blamed for arguably the darkest days in Norway's recent history.

The local Muslim community was quick to respond.
The Islamic Council of Norway immediately issued a statement of condemnation, saying that any attack on Norway was an attack on the homeland of its members, while imams and other Muslim community members visited with various Christian groups and church leaders in an effort to not only offer condolences, but to improve lines of communication.

"We are in deep sorrow with the Norwegian community," Muhammed Tayyib, the coordinator of The Islamic Cultural Centre Norway, told Al Jazeera.

Tayyib said that even though most of the Muslim community are immigrants, that they are "part of the democratic system and support the freedom of expression. We are reacting [to the attacks] as Norwegians, not as outsiders".

Tayyib said that the mosque at the cultural centre, which is in the heart of Oslo and not far from the bomb blast, remained open to all on Saturday.

He said many non-Muslims had come in on Saturday to talk about the attacks or just to get to know the Muslim community better. 

Rizwan Ahmad, the general secretary at the cultural centre, said that reports of backlash against Muslims in Oslo left the younger members of the cultural centre feeling vulnerable. Two women wearing hijabs, he said, were harassed on the street while a Pakistani man was beaten on a bus.

But Ahmad said that the Muslim community remains in solidarity with the greater Norwegian community.
"We don't say anything about (the attacker) being Muslim or not Muslim. It's still a tragedy," he said of the attacks.

Dleen Dhoski, coordinator of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Oslo in Blindern, said that the concern wasn't about who was to blame. 

"Our main concern wasn't [whether] it was a specific group that performed this horrible action, but we were shocked and concerned about the wellbeing of those who got affected by the attack," said Dhoski, who said she felt that Norwegian media was fairly neutral in its reporting. 

"And [we were] even more shocked that something like this could be happening in our safe homeland ... This was an attack on peace and democracy in Norway, so I don't believe it has an effect only on the Muslim communities, but the entire nation," said Dhoski.

She said the Muslim community was focused on helping those most affected: "So the main priority right now for us all is showing our support towards the victims, and just try to contribute as much we can to make sure that Norway stays as it always has been." 

The group continues its public outreach, she said, attending debates and dialogues with non-Muslim groups while keeping an open line with the media.

Far-right connection 
Of course, it wasn't just the pundits and security analysts who were looking no further than the Muslim world to blame for the attacks.

The far-right - which has shown itself to be focused on with blaming Muslims for all European ills - was doing the same. Notably, the Nordisk group (a nationalistic, anti-immigration activist group described as having "Nazi-like beliefs) was busy blaming Muslims for the attacks on its forum.
Posters complained that the "uncontrolled immigration from Muslim countries" was to blame and that the attacks were "expected" and that, "terror will not decrease when the desert rats surge across Europe".
The group did not respond to an interview request on Saturday.

While Nordisk is certainly a somewhat fringe element, Norway, like many other European countires, where anti-immigrant groups have gained significant ground in recent elections, is swinging further to the right. Its Progress Party has been getting stronger, with some elements in the party seeking tougher immigration laws. In 2009, it called for the deportation of parents whose children wear the hijab to school.

The posters on the forum seemed unaware that Breivik is reportedly a member of their group. Norway's police confirmed that Breivik identified himself as a "Christian fundamentalist", while local media reported that he had posted anti-Muslim rhetoric online on several occasions.

Indeed, Breivik, it has been reported, was also rather taken with at least one member of the far right, Pamela Geller, a noted anti-Islam activist who fought against the construction of an Islamic community centre near the site of the former World Trade Center towers in New York.

Geller, who in May blogged that Muslims were responsible for "all rapes in the past five years" in Norway linked Friday's attacks to a "jihad".

Ali Esbati, an economist at the Manifest Center for Social Analysis, says the negative perception of Muslims in Europe has become a "convergence point" among right-wing groups, who spread the viewpoint of Muslims as an "occupying force and threat to Western society".

"The wider problem is that it's not even radical Islam that's seen as a threat - it's the idea that all of Islam or Muslims are a threat," said Esbati.

"So these (right-wing) radicals find a wider acceptance in mainstream politics."

He's not surprised by the knee-jerk response of Muslims being blamed for the attacks, as he says, discourse is not driven by facts or statistics. Rather, it is driven by perception - and right now, terrorism's face isn't of the radical right or of separatist groups in Europe (which, together, constitute the greatest terorrism threat to Europe) . This has lead to the proliferation of what Esbati calls fundamentally "racist" ideas towards Muslims.
"The tone in public discourse … has become much harsher, it's been a gradual process," said Esbati.
"It's the normalisation of ideas that were far more marginalised in the past."

The 'madman' angle
Still, the question remains: When what was targeted was a government building and a youth camp put on by a political party - one that calls for the recognition of a Palestinian state - why would a Muslim be a more likely suspect than, say, a far-right terrorist?

Essentially, the answer simply seems to be this: It's been nearly a decade since the September 11 attacks, which, it seems, have had the effect of making Muslims the terrorist fall-guy in the Western world.
"It was obvious that everyone would assume that it was a Muslim," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 

"All the Islamophobes on the internet jumped all over it."
He said that, even as of Saturday night, US media reports in the US were claiming "Islam this and al-Qaeda that."

But then, said Hooper, there's the "madman" angle, referring to the Norwegian official who said that the attacks were "not Islamic-terror related" and therefore "a madman's work."

"Unless it has been committed by a Muslim, it's not terrorism. If a non-Muslim commits an act of terrorism, they don't call him a terrorist. They say he was 'a madman,'" said Hooper.

Even though Breivik has been identified as a Christian, Hooper says he's sure his actions will not be affiliated with his faith - nor should they be. It's important, he says, to realise that an act of terrorism carried out by an individual, no matter what religion or creed, not be associated with the entire population following that faith.
This, of course, is not the case for Muslims in the current climate, and so Hooper says the focus should be on outreach. Muslims in Norway must continue to build coalitions and to work to "marginalise extremists of all faiths",  he said. 

"Everything always comes down to education."

Children abandoned on east Africa's "roads of death"

Desperate Somali mothers are abandoning their dying children by the roadside as they travel to overwhelmed emergency food centers in drought-hit eastern Africa, U.N. aid officials said Monday.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, told a conference in Rome that a combination of natural disaster and regional conflict was affecting more than 12 million people.
"We are seeing all the points able to distribute food completely overwhelmed," she said, adding that a camp in Dadaab in Kenya that was built for 90,000 people now housed 400,000.
"We want to make sure the supplies are there along the road because some of them are becoming roads of death where mothers are having to abandon their children who are too weak to make it or who have died along the way," she said.

Women and children were among the most at risk in the crisis, Sheeran said, calling it the "children's famine" given the number of children at risk of death or permanent stunting of their brains and bodies due to hunger.
The WFP will feed 2.5 million malnourished children and is trying to raise money for more, she said.

"I believe it is the children's famine, because the ones who are the weakest are the children and those are the ones we're seeing are the least likely to make it," Sheeran told Reuters.
"We've heard of women making the horrible choice of leaving behind their weaker children to save the stronger ones or having children die in their arms."

Ministers and senior officials met at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome Monday to discuss how to mobilize aid following the worst drought in decades in a region stretching from Somalia to Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

The WFP said it needed an extra $360 million in urgent funds. Oxfam said that overall another $1 billion was needed to handle the situation.

The World Bank said in a statement it was providing more than $500 million to assist drought victims, in addition to $12 million in immediate aid to help those worst hit.

Amid warnings that urgent action was required to stop a humanitarian disaster spreading across the Horn of Africa, officials said there was still a chance to support people and help them resume livelihoods as farmers, fishers and herders.

Governments worldwide and the U.N. have been criticized for their slow response to the severe drought but they face severe problems getting aid to a region in the grip of a raging conflict across much of southern Somalia.

The U.N. has declared a famine in two regions of Somalia and warned it could spread further afield.
Years of anarchic conflict in southern Somalia have exacerbated the emergency, preventing aid agencies from helping communities in the area. Nearly 135,000 Somalis have fled since January, mainly to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

The WFP has said it cannot reach more than 2 million Somalis facing starvation in areas controlled by Islamist militants, who imposed a food aid ban in 2010 and have regularly threatened relief groups.

Oxfam's Barbara Stocking said it was very difficult for staff to access parts of Somalia but it was working with local partners to provide aid and they were trying to help them scale up their support in the current crisis.

Fanatic Answers His Questions

After Friday's dual attacks in Norway, more than 1,500 pages of the writings of the shooter Anders Behring Breivik have emerged -- a manifesto of madness if ever there was one.

The 32-year-old gunman is a Nordic ideal, and for at least nine years, he meticulously crafted his plan to root out anyone different. Breivik's rambling writings, grandly titled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, present him as a right-wing nationalist fueled by a combined hatred of Muslims, Marxists and multiculturalists. 

As part of the manifesto, Breivik interviews himself, offering a highly personal Q&A in which he throws himself admiring questions and answers them with disturbing calm. This abridged version of Breivik's interview is translated from Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende.

What tipped the scales for you? What particular things pushed you to plan the attack?

For me personally it was our government's involvement (engagement) with/in the attack on Serbia (Nato bombing in 1999) several years ago. It was completely unacceptable the way the U.S. and Western European regimes bombed our Serbian brothers. There have been many other cases that have strengthened my resolve. Among them, my government's cowardly handling of the Muhammed cartoons, and their decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to an Islamic terrorist (Arafat). There have been dozens of other questions. My government and our media capitulated to Islam years ago, after the Rushdie incident. Since then it has snowballed. Thousands of Muslims stream in each year through the asylum, institutions, or family connections in Norway.

What would you say to your European brothers and sisters?

Know that you are not alone in this fight. We have tens of millions of European sympathizers and tens of thousands of brothers and sisters who support us fully and are willing to fight beside us. Hopefully I will be able to help and inspire others. Build your network on Facebook. Follow the guidelines in this book and you will succeed! 

If you were to use a word for the ideology or movement that you represent, what would it be?
Cultural conservatism, or a nationalist/conservative orientation known as the Vienna school of thought. As for the political movement, I would describe it as a National Resistance Movement, an Indigenous Rights Movement or even a Right-revolutionary movement. 

Are you optimistic?

I am very optimistic. Cultural Marxism/multiculturalism, especially in combination with Islam, will defeat itself. The justification for this claim is that the cultural Marxist and Islamic alliance will not last. When the window of opportunity comes, we must be ready to seize the political and military control of all funds. When the time comes, we must not hesitate. We must risk everything for the chance to get our freedom and secure freedom for our relatives again. I have prepared myself mentally for a very long time and I would like to sacrifice my life for the benefit of my European brothers and sisters.

You said you have pure genealogy?

I am very proud of my Viking heritage. My name, Breivik, is a place name from Northern Norway, dating back to before the Viking era. Behring is a pre-Christian Germanic name derived from Behr, the Germanic word for Bear (or "those who are protected by the bear").

I suppose you wanted to tell your friends about this. Has it been difficult to live a "double life"?
First it was extremely difficult to avoid the temptation to tell your closest friends. I decided however to retain all relevant information. Revealing sensitive information to any of them would put them in a difficult spot, because they would be required by law to report this information to the authorities. It would also pose a serious threat to me if they decided to tell anyone. 

What motivates you? How have you managed to stay focused and motivated for more than 8 years? Is it bitterness and hatred against the so-called "cultural Marxist/the multiculturalism wonderful elites," or maybe towards Islam?

No, not at all. If they (the cultural Marxists) against all odds, gave up on multiculturalism tomorrow, if they stopped all Muslim immigration and started the deportation of all Muslims, I would forgive them for their past crimes. If they refuse to surrender until 2020, there will be no turning back. We will eventually wipe out every single one of them. I do not hate Muslims at all. I acknowledge that there are magnificent Muslim individuals in Europe. In fact, I have had several Muslim friends over the years, some who I still respect. This does not mean that I will accept an Islamic presence in Europe. Muslim individuals, who are not assimilated 100% by 2020, will be deported as soon as we manage to seize power. Although I admit that I am sick of the current development, I would say I'm driven by my love for Europe, European culture and Europeans. This does not mean I'm against diversity. But valuing diversity does not mean you support the genocide of your own culture and people.

How did you first involved in your current activities?

When I was around 16-17 years old, I joined the Progressive Party's youth organization (FPU), which was anti-immigration and pro-free market. Every journalist in the country considered the party's members to be racist because of their anti-immigration platform. The Progress Party was under constant attack from every media organization, from NGOs and all other political parties. They were called racists and Nazis, and were generally labelled "fascist pigs." The Progress Party appealed to me because I had seen the hypocrisy in society, and I knew even then that they were the only party that opposed multiculturalism.

Around 2000, I realized that the democratic struggle against the Islamization of Europe, and European multiculturalism, was lost. It is simply not possible to compete with democratic regimes that import millions of voters. 40 years of dialogue with the cultural Marxists / multiculturalists had ended up as a disaster. It would now only take 50-70 years before we, Europeans, were the minority. So I decided to explore alternative forms of opposition. But the biggest problem then was that there were no options for me at all. There was no known armed culturally conservative, or Christian, anti-Jihad movement.

Grudge Of A Christian Fundamentalist

The macabre killing of 93 people by a right-wing fanatic in Norway is the worst attack carried out in that country since the second Great War. Traumatised Norwegians mourn the death of the unsuspecting souls who did not have the slightest clue of the doomsday. 

After this, things will never be the same for the Norwegians. The horrifying scenes of blood and wail have left a deep scar on the national psyche of the peaceful nation. 

The 32 year old Anders Behring Breivik, who is now under police custody, surprised many by justifying his acts. In his first comments, after giving himself up to the police, made public through his lawyers, he said although the killing was 'atrocious' it was 'necessary'. We'll learn more from his deposition in the court. 

Investigators are planning to burrow deep into his beliefs and come out with a concrete outline of his actual profile, other than the one posted on the facebook. It is important to know what exactly he wanted to achieve. 

Till now, it is an act of a single man. There has been no evidence of multiple involvements as yet. Only time will tell the remainder of the story. Although outside links are not downplayed by political experts. 

He may have acted alone in this operation, but most likely inspired by 'extreme rightists' scattered across Europe. We have to wait till his depositions and intensive police findings that have got underway.

A witness to the massacre, Adrian Pracon, who escaped his bullets, said, he walked around calm and controlled and randomly shot at the crowd without showing any sign of thrill. 

What were his political beliefs? From boyhood he grew with a deep hatred towards multi-culturism of the lefts and of the Muslims. He hated "cultural Marxists" and wanted a "crusade" against the spread of Islam. He called himself a 'nationalist' and harbored a deep resentment against the immigrants, who he thought enjoyed benefits of his state without deserving them. A staunch believer in right politics he planned to create a far right nationalist party, mainly to set up a counter force to deal with the “violent Marxist organizations that he believed terrorized the politically conservative”. 

Breivik was a member of the Progress Party, albeit for a brief period, between 1999 and 2004. But he left the party blaming it for embracing
'multiculturism'. It was after walking out of the party, that his 'independent extreme views' took shape. All these years he worked alone. But he kept contacts with far right group members in several countries of Europe. He discussed political ideologies and strategies with them. We might have more information on them in future.

What spurred him to commit such a cold blooded massacre? Is it only his dogmatic political thinking that led him to this blood letting? Why did he have to kill those innocent young people attending a youth camp of their party? 

If Breivik is calling himself a nationalist it is like vindicating the aphorism that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. The macabre massacre he unleashed is the most degenerated form of exerting rancour on his own co-religionist compatriots. He appears to be a modern re-incarnation of Adolf Hitlter. 

Breiviks gruesome acts only substantiate the conventional wisdom of Europe that far right circles in that continent are getting intolerant and more confrontational. This is a dangerous phenomenon that powers in Europe and the world could ill-afford to ignore. Home-grown terrorists are hardly visible before they commit the most dangerous acts in their own yards.

However, people taking recourse to terrorism must be told that 'act of terrorism has little to do with politics or beliefs; it is a senseless and criminal act, not justifiable by any reasoning.

It is important that the First World democracies address the problems posed by the 'far right extremists' and 'Christian fundamentalists' in their countries. They harbour intense hatred and grudge against the immigrants and minorities and their religious belief. They also target those who believe in democracy and protect the rights of the immigrants and minorities. 

This is no secret. They have made it known through the media, through public rallies and through attacks and killings.