x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Norwegian killer 'acted from Christian right-wing and anti-Muslim sentiments'

Right-wing activists and parties scrambled over the weekend to distance themselves from the man who admitted shooting more than 80 young people and setting off a bomb in Oslo that killed at least seven who seems to share the far right's anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim ideologies.

AMSTERDAM // The suspect in the bomb and shooting attacks in Norway on Friday has admitted responsibility and appears to have acted out of deep-seated Christian right-wing and anti-Muslim sentiments, with his attacks apparently inspired by a pan-European movement against immigration and perceived multi-cultural policies.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, was arrested after the shooting spree on an island near Oslo where the Norwegian Labour Party was holding its annual youth summer camp. He targeted the party and the government that it leads because he saw them as "traitors" to their own society and "enablers of Islamisation" of their country.

In a rambling 1,500-page manifesto posted on the internet, Mr Breivik defined his mission as the "systematical and organised executions of multiculturalist traitors". He signed the document, which his lawyer said Mr Breivik admitted posting before the attacks, as Andrew Berwick, apparently an anglicised version of his name, He called himself a member of the reconstituted Knights Templar, a medieval crusading military-religious order.

The clear identification of Mr Breivik with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim ideologies set off a scramble over the weekend among right-wing activists and parties to distance themselves from him.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, who leads the anti-immigrant Party for Freedom, PVV, and who props up the Dutch right-of-centre minority government, reacted online to reports that the Norwegian attacker admired his party. Mr Wilders called the suspect a "horribly sick psychopath" and said that the PVV "despises everything that he stands for".

The prominent American right-wing blogger Pamela Geller, who led the protests this year against an Islamic centre near Ground Zero in New York, also weighed in, disavowing the notion that right-wing ideology had played a role. "There was no 'ideology' here. No mandate for murder, and all the leftists, Islamic apologists and Islamic supremacists and media hounds won't make it so," she wrote on her blog, Atlas Shrugs.

But Mr Breivik's lawyer, Geir Lippestad, signalled that his client maintained that he was sane, ready to stand trial and even eager to explain his motives. "He wanted a change in society and, from his perspective, he needed to force through a revolution," he told Norway's public broadcaster, NRK.

His client realised what he had done and was aware of the pain that he inflicted, Mr Lippestad said. "He felt that his actions were gruesome, but necessary." Mr Lippestad said that Mr Breivik acted alone.

The attacks and the long online document that Mr Breivik posted had been years in the making, the lawyer said. He added that his client was "sitting on a lot of hatred".

The document details both the suspect's ideology and his painstaking preparations for the attacks. It has not been authenticated by the police but Mr Lippestad acknowledged that is was written by his client.

In fact, large parts of the tract appear to have been adapted from a manifesto written by the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, who targeted scientists and others in the United States and saw leftists as the enemy. Mr Breivik left whole passages of the Unabomber's manifesto unchanged, merely substituting "cultural Marxist" for "leftist".

However, the Norwegian also describes in the document how he started a farm in order to be able to order the large amounts of fertiliser that he needed for the manufacture of the bombs that he set off in the centre of Oslo. He also details the weapons in his possession and the budget for his operation.

Anders Behring Breivik grew up in Oslo, in a wealthy neighbourhood and was well-educated, having studied at Norway's largest business school. He had not attracted the attention of his friends and classmates as someone with extreme views.

His father, who worked for Norwegian embassies in London and Paris as an economist and now lives in France, said that he was shocked but that he had not been in contact with his son since 1995. He said: TO WHOM? "When he was younger, he was an ordinary boy but not very communicative. He was not interested in politics at the time."

In his manifesto, titled, "a European declaration of independence", Mr Breivik fulminates against what he sees as a planned Muslim takeover of Europe with the collusion of left-wing advocates of multiculturalism, and the idea that groups from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds can live together peacefully.

"More than 90% of the EU and national parliamentarians and more than 95% of journalists are supporters of European multiculturalism and therefore supporters of the ongoing Islamic colonisation of Europe," he writes in the tract.

His preoccupation with right-wing ideology did not happen suddenly. He was a member of the anti-immigrant Progress Party (FrP), Norway's second-biggest political party, between 1999 and 2006, and was for several years a leader in its youth movement. Anti-fascist internet monitors have said that he was a member of a Swedish neo-Nazi Internet forum named Nordisk. He was also a freemason but his membership has been suspended SAYS WHO?.

Some observers have expressed surprise that Mr Breivik targeted young ethnic Norwegians and not immigrants or specifically Muslims. But from his writings it appears that he shares an extreme right-wing position with groups such as the PVV in the Netherlands and the English Defence League that "left-wing elitists", or in his words, "cultural Marxists", are to blame for allowing a "Muslim takeover of Europe" and for ignoring the plight of the less well-off common man.

Movements expressing this ideology are active across Europe, including in Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Right-wing, anti-immigrant parties have made headway in, among other countries, Norway itself, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae