When the news about the terrorist attacks in Norway which left more than 92 people dead and many injured, shocked the world, the speculations about potential suspects also began to soar.
Not surprisingly, the majority of the western media’s initial report on the attacks linked it with Islamist extremism, suggesting an Islamist terrorist group might have been behind the violent incidents.
Colin Randall in The National writes that Le Figaro which is a conservative French newspaper reported that speculations on the identity of the culprits “turned logically” towards Islamist terrorists.
The BBC and Sky News followed the suit and continued with the Islamophobic commentaries, with their correspondents and experts telling the audience that the violent attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda operatives. They explained to people that Norway was targeted because of it being a member of NATO and even that the Norwegian Jihadist had plans to attack New York and London subways through their international links!
Despite the emerging evidence that suggested the attacker was a blond Norwegian, the largest UK tabloid, the Sun did not give up spreading Islamophobia by a report on an “‘Al-Qaeda’ Massacre” in Norway, published on its front page. It said “the Norwegian ethnicity of the alleged perpetrator suggested that he was a local convert.”
The New York Times, another western outlet, attributed the bombing to a Jihadist group that never existed. Later the NY Times tried to cover up the lies they fed to the public earlier:
“Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.
There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible. In 2004 and again in 2008, the No. 2 leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, who took over after the death of Osama bin Laden, threatened Norway because of its support of the American-led NATO military operation in Afghanistan.
Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking Al Qaeda’s brutality and multiple attacks.”
This is how they justified spreading the false reports and speculations during the first hours after the attacks. At the end of this cover-up, NY Times quoted Brian Fishman who was introduced as a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington as drawing an irrelevant conclusion:
“One lesson I take away from this is that attacks, especially in the West, are going to move to automatic weapons,” Fishman is quoted.
Other mainstream media also either tried to justify their false interpretations or removed their previous posts!
But as the reality began to surface, the story the mainstream media were spreading was proved wrong. It was disclosed that the suspect was a 32 Norwegian man with far-right pro-Israel and anti-Muslim thoughts who, in his own words, wanted to save Europe from Islamization. That is why he pleaded not guilty despite admitting the responsibility for the terrorist attacks, saying what he did was necessary.
Breivik was said to belong to a Swedish neo-Nazi internet forum. He reportedly was a supporter on the anti-Islam PVV movement of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. In his confessions after arrest, Breivik has claimed being linked to the English Defense League (EDL) which also has Islamophobic positions.
His anti-Muslim and anti-multiculturalism ideas and beliefs can easily be seen in the comments he made in a document titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence”. Here are some of his comments:
-For me it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists differ. They are all supporters of hate-ideologies…(page 2-3)
-What is globalization and modernity to do with mass Muslim immigration?
-Can you name ONE country where multiculturalism is successful where Islam is involved? The only historical example is the society without a welfare state with only non-Muslim minorities (U.S.)…(page 7)
He then says in the book that he follows the Vienna School of Thoughts, which opposes multiculturalism and Islamization, and describes it:
“To sums up the Vienna school of thought:
-Cultural Conservatism (anti-multiculturalism)
-Anti-authoritarian (resistance to all authoritarian ideologies of hate)
-Pro-Israel/forsvarer of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries
– Defender of the cultural aspects of Christianity
– To reveal the Eurabia project and the Frankfurt School (ny-marxisme/kulturmarxisme/multikulturalisme)
– Is not an economic policy and can collect everything from socialists to capitalists…”(page 20)
He adds in his manifesto that other cultural conservatives should be influenced so that they “come to our anti-rasistiske/pro-homser/pro-Israel line.” (Page 41)
Bruce Bawer, whose ideas had influenced Breivik, stated that the manifesto can be divided into two halves. In the first half Breivik “indicts the European cultural elite for permitting Islam to take root in Europe”, and in the second half he “outlines in extreme detail how he and his fellow anti-jihadists can acquire weapons, ammunition and body armor and thereupon proceed to use ‘terror as a method for waking up the masses’ to the danger posed by Islam.”
The recent rise of the far-right in Europe is one of the reasons behind Breivik’s horrible decision to kill his countrymen.
According to the CNBC.Com, “On February 4, 2011, several thousand supporters of the English Defense League (EDL), a far-right group which purports to oppose ‘Islamic Extremism in the UK’, gathered in the town of Luton, some 30 miles north of London…. the town reportedly played host to activists from Europe – including established groups from Denmark, France and Germany, and newer ones, from Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.”
In June 2010, Geert Wilders, a notorious anti-Islam campaigner in the Netherlands, won 24 seats in the Dutch parliament and in September the Swedish far-right party, the Sweden Democrats surprisingly gained 20 seats in parliament.
Same year in October, “German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech to a conference of junior Christian Democrats that the country’s ‘multikulti’, or multiculturalism, had ‘utterly failed'”.
France also implemented anti-immigration and anti-Muslim policies by deporting Roma population from the country and by banning women from wearing full-face veils in public places.
It can be concluded to a great extent, that the increase in Islamophobic and anti-multiculturalism and anti-immigration rhetoric used in the mainstream media has paved the way for violent actions to erupt. It gives confidence to people with ideas like Breivik’s and makes them believe that using violence would be justified to prevent the society from what they consider as going the wrong way.
David Lea, European analyst at political risk consultancy Control Risks also believes that the extremist policies taken by European governments to an extent create the political atmosphere in which people like Breivik can operate.”I think it shifts the center of the political discourse in a country sufficiently to create the room for outliers, who can then attract support on the basis of what they write on the internet,” he to the CNBC.
Any time a terrorist activity is reported from a European state, finger of suspicion are first directed towards the Muslim population in the country; this is a result of Islamophobia and also a cause of it and it breeds nothing but resentment, violence, fear, and suspicion.
Europeans will hopefully see less of cases like Breivik’s if their governments understand that implementing extremist laws and spreading extremist ideas that target a group of the society only gives way to violence.