They don’t have terrorists in Norway?

He is just a killer. Got it? No? Don’t you read the papers, watch the news, listen to the experts? Heck, don’t you see that Muslim organisations are so accustomed to being taken for granted that they jump in claiming that they did it. Ah, one more terrorist attack. But Norway? Why not? There are Muslims there and somewhere in Islam Norway too must have been mentioned. It did not work. This time someone was scoring points. That is what it is made out to be when a nice blond, clean-shaven guy in cop/military uniform, confesses.

He is not called a terrorist, no blanket judgement yet. Even as radical, he has his reasons – he is anti-Islam. He wreaked this terrorist attack to draw world attention to the end of multiculturalism. The New York Times had this precious nugget:

“Yet, some of the primary motivations cited by the suspect in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, are now mainstream issues. Mrs. Merkel, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister David Cameron in Britain all recently declared an end to multiculturalism. Multiculturalism “has failed, utterly failed,” Mrs. Merkel told fellow Christian Democrats last October, though stressing that immigrants were welcome in Germany.”

Is this not great? The bloke is now supposedly speaking or echoing the views of world leaders and the international media is going along with it?

The fact that he is seen to have acted alone puts him in the romanticised category of the lone ranger. He has himself said about how it was all “in the head”. They might just analyse it as mental trauma due to seeing so many immigrants around; maybe he suffered from claustrophobia; perhaps he was just playing some video games and decided to re-enact those scenes in real life. It would be attributed to madness. I would like to know why other sorts of such attacks are not. Because, they are not. They are planned and always have a purpose. There is, therefore, no reason to give him the benefit of doubt and to put him on a psychiatric couch only because he was alone. He has already displayed enough gall to declare that he wants to explain his stand. Explain the killing of a hundred people? He also wants to appear in uniform for the court hearings.

I am afraid but all this adds to the ‘heroism’. It won’t be stated in so many words, yet the subtext is clear. In a rather surprising statement quoted in the NYT piece, Joerg Forbrig, an analyst at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin who has studied far-rights issues, said:

“I’m not surprised when things like the bombing in Norway happen, because you will always find people who feel more radical means are necessary. It literally is something that can happen in a number of places and there are broader problems behind it.”

Stunningly simplistic. “More radical means are necessary”? So says the Al Qaeda too, but they are not given this Prozac kind of treatment. “Broader problems behind it”? Sure. While radical Islamists train and prune everything, except their beards, they could have broader problems as well – like their countries being decimated by powers that have no business to be on their land in the first place, and every person being considered a suspect if s/he is a Muslim, and their clothes and lifestyle being questioned.

Had this terrorist – yes, do use this term – been wearing a hijaab would it be seen as concern over multiculturalism? After all, when westerners go bang-bang and bomb-bomb in Iraq and Afghanistan, those places are superimposed by another culture and a fascist regime that seeks puppets to play with. Multiculturalism is not only about one nation deciding who the bad ones are, if they have granted them visas and they are working and in many ways contributing. If they are criminals, treat them as just that. Not as terror suspects. That does not happen. The chap at the pharmacy could well be a terrorist and if he takes an afternoon break for prayers, then he has had it. The teacher who wears a hijaab could be smuggling in Islamic literature for the bright kids who will soon turn into terrorists. Europe and America cannot take such risks.

We will forget the evangelists, the guys who burn the Quran, the people who say god told them to do it, the guys who move away if they see a person who does not look like them. Oh, they love chicken tikka and now vegetable jalfrezi. The curry kingdom was great till it lasted. Now it is time to just take the recipe and make it very clear who the boss is. As though it is not evident. As though it were any different when they ‘got Saddam’, they ‘got Osama’.

Breivik’s terrorism is as bad as any other is, so let us stop making excuses. The immigrant problem is there and must be dealt with by the relevant department. Neo-Nazi groups have been active long before 9/11. The new xenophobia has got a pedestal.

I also have problems with questions about how Muslims must integrate into societies they adopt as home. It brings the idea of globalisation down to a convenient ghetto. It is like Wall Street where you can get bullish and wager over funds the world over sitting at a desk. A closed group. You go to Muslim societies and Westerners work there and make no change in their lifestyle. They are immigrants in Middle-East countries that clearly call themselves Islamic and have never pretended otherwise. There is talk about how people cannot wear bikinis and I have maintained that a bikini is not a dress, not even casual smart. It is meant for the beach and beaches in those countries do permit people to wear what they want.

This is a digression because multiculturalism has different meanings. The West has always promoted itself as such a haven, a melting pot. It appears to be a simmering pot where discontent is now being given a more aggressive form. It is done slyly, as a protective garb.

Breivik’s “individual capacity” act is one such manoeuvre. This is what he had written before going on the killing spree about how he will be portrayal in the media after the act:

"However, since I manifest their worst nightmare (systematical and organized executions of multiculturalist traitors), they will probably just give me the full propaganda rape package and propagate the following accusations: pedophile, engaged in incest activities, homosexual, psycho, ADHD, thief, non-educated, inbred, maniac, insane, monster etc. I will be labeled as the biggest (Nazi-)monster ever witnessed since WW2."

He gets points for getting the media down pat. It has stopped being a kangaroo court; it is now all about pop psychology.

Those people who died and their families do not know why this happened. Do they agree with him? I won’t be surprised if days later some adept media person will land up at their doorstep and get an ‘understanding’ version of the misguided soul who was disturbed by what the world was turning into because their jobs and lives were at stake. He was frightened, do you understand?

And you will see images of Islamic terror more than this act. There will be great editing. Shots of Norwegians weeping. Cut to some bombing by Islamist groups.

Who will this help? Both. The West in its endeavour to keep the ‘war on terror’ iron hot. And the radical Islamic groups who are so gung-ho about their role that the media attention will in fact help them by default. They did not do it, but they could. They always can.

Neither will realise that the world is not about them, but about people who are just living their lives.

(c) Farzana Versey

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Published in Countercurrents


  1. Farzana,
    Just a couple of nights before (or perhaps the night before - don't remember too well) the Oslo attack one of the foreign movie channels (don't remember exactly which was it of two - HBO or Sony Pix) was airing a wonderful movie on racism - American History X . The young white mail protagonist depicted as a reformed white supremacist made a wonderful portrayal - chillingly enough throwing up all the "socio-economic arguments" so very convincingly despite all those arguments being facile once one scratches the surface. One just couldn't miss connecting the dots between movie and Oslo. Norway incident may have been spectacular - and just that - because , IMHO, the social fault-lines not being too much sharpened by economic conditions. One of the prominent places this might be happening is U.S. I hate saying this - but the Tea Party movement might be channeling and fanning similar anger at the same time.
    - Mahesh.
    p.s. : Missed wishing you this weekend. Have a great week ahead.

  2. Every extreme ideology will create an opposing ideology. Law of nature.

    Supremacist islamist ideology (quran is perfect, islam is perfect and the best way of life) will create an opposing ideology which will claim itself to be perfect.

    Intellectuals on an emergency basis should embrace the scientific method which embraces critical reflection and imperfect theories and non sacred-ness of old dusty books.

    That is the only solution, otherwise moderates will be caught in the crossfire.

  3. Farzana,

    Not sure what you were trying to say, but why don't we the natives of these lands not build our nationas, so we don't have to migrate in the first place. If that means picking a gun and fighting for the right to live the way we want to live it.

    But, this will be a problem for Muslims in India, Ghandi the most unheroic of heroes screwed them up for centuries.


  4. FV
    There is a thin line between Heroism and Terrorism.

    Some Heroes are Terrorists for some and some Terrorists are Heroes for others.

    Terrorism has become a big joke and the creater of this joke is called joker, Who is joker here?
    One who laughs at himself or the one who makes others laugh by laughling at others??

    Just think about it

  5. Mahesh:

    Simplistic socio-eco arguments you speak about work as potently as the religious/ancient heritage one, and in all cases this is just the top layer. However, one cannot completely ignore that ethnicity and economics are often inter-related.

    Re. the Oslo attacks and my views, I am trying to formulate a response to the general theme if I have the energy left.

    PS: Thanks and to you too. I should remember to start the week by publicly uttering "Bismillah"!

  6. Anon:

    You say you could not figure out what I was saying and you expect me to understand what you have said? I don't mean a quid pro quo, but what exactly does picking up a gun and fighting to live the way one wants in one's land mean? Are all "natives" migrating? Why will this be a problem for Muslims - will they be the ones who should pick up the guns or the recipient of the gunfire?

    Gandhi is of course one of the 'faulty' stories, as I have always maintained, but the Indian Muslims, like all Indians, are capable of getting 'unscrewed'.


    I don't think there is a thin line between heroism and terrorism, but in the way it is perceived by specific groups. The terrorist joker is not the kind who laughs, IMO. There is comedy of the absurd.


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