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Muslim extremists, Islamic-terror attacks, Al qaeda?

Anders BreivikEver since 9/11 and the London 7/7 terrorist attacks, when we think ‘terror’, we think ‘muslim’. It’s an easy conclusion to draw - even the horrific killings in Norway could not escape our media’s assumptions on terrorists, them initially attributing the killings to The Helpers of the Global Jihad.

Apparently this obscure Islamist group were retaliating for the publication in Norway of cartoons lampooning the prophet Mohammed. It was a shock to many when the opposite was revealed. We now know Anders Behring Breivik, a Christian, white nationalist fundamentalist carried out the co-ordinated double attacks against ‘multiculturalist traitors in Western Europe’. Why did he feel this action was necessary and how can he possibly justify the resulting 93 deaths?

Breivik sees himself as a modern day crusader. We only need to glimpse at the past to see the consequences of this sort of thinking. The Christian Nationalist crusade of 1940s/50s America was an anti-Semitic group that opposed communism, world government and immigration. Breivik’s manifesto A European Declaration of Independence has been described as a ‘Mein Kampf’ for our times, but it is Muslims not Jews who are the enemy. Through this manifesto he outlines his Christian fundamentalist ideology propelled by hatred of Islam, Marxism and non-whites.

The 20th century has seen a rise in religious fundamentalism; violence has been carried out in the name of numerous religions, suicide missions by Muslim extremists are just one example. Author, Karen Armstrong suggests that fundamentalists are convinced they are about to be wiped out, they fear modernity and the liberal, secular society that has no time for God. Was this Anders Breivik’s paradoxical attempt at bringing God back to Norway or was he using the mask of religion to destroy what he didn’t like? Understanding his actions will not bring back the lives that perished for his cause however it could prevent other nationalists from reaching the same conclusions.

Religious fundamentalists are in no way disassociated from politics. Breiviks manifesto in short is a criticism of mainstream society and our acceptance of multiculturalism. “So much of what he wrote could have been said by any right-wing politician,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-president of the Green bloc in the European Parliament. And it is these killings that are now shifting the immigrant debate in Europe. Breivik has been praised, multicultural society has been blamed and national identity and values should now be preserved. The obvious dilemma here is that aligning any politician’s views with a potentially insane man who has just murdered close to 100 civilians is risky business to say the least.

Plato said the punishment we suffer, if we refuse to take an interest in matters of government, is to live under the government of worse men. Yet we cannot all, like Breivik, take matters into our own hands when we don’t like something. As a Christian fundamentalist he was misguided, as a nationalist, perhaps paranoid. But it is too late to turn back the clock.

Europe is home to multiple nationalities, races and religions. Where we have welcomed immigration we cannot suddenly dismiss it. Instead of sinking to Breiviks criminal level politicians should be rising above these extremist views. Instead of debating whether this murder can be blamed upon multicultural society rather than the hand that pulled the trigger politicians should be debating how this extremist behaviour with its dire consequences can be avoided in the future as I’m sure to Breiviks disappointment multiculturalism is not going anywhere any time soon.

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