July 25th, 2011
11:49 AM ET

Norway attacks and multiculturalism

"If Islamic people do something bad, you think, 'Oh, it's Muslims.' But if a white Protestant does something bad, you just think he's mad. That's something we need to think about."
- Sigrid Skeie Tjensvoll, Norwegian citizen

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, the suspect in the worst attack in Norway since World War II, acknowledged carrying out the attacks and claims to have worked with two other cells, a judge said Monday.

Breivik defended the attacks as necessary to combat the "colonization" of Norway by Muslims, Judge Kim Heger said. He accused the Labour Party, the target of the mass shooting, of "treason" for promoting multiculturalism, the judge said.

Here are some views on the debate on multiculturalism in Europe:

Dr. Magnus Ranstorp, Research Director at the Swedish National Defence College, writes:
"In many ways, globalization and scores of other interlocking conditions created the 'perfect right-wing extremist monster.' The role of Internet; the role of role-playing games like World of Warcraft; extremist websites propagating the theory of Euroabia – the colonization and Islamization of Europe – all coalesce, blend into and roll-into-one cut-and-paste conspiratorial outlook that explain how Breivik viewed the world, how he defined his enemies, the fantasy world he sought to re-create in the real world and his narcissistic view of his role in his own actions, the 'resistance struggle' and legacy he would leave behind."

From The Council on Foreign Relations: The American blogs that influenced Breivik provide a window into a strange scene: pro-Western, exceedingly pro-American and friendly to Israel – but extremely anti-Muslim, aggressively Christian and openly hostile to everything which is liberal, leftist, multi-cultural or internationalist, writes Der Spiegel's Frank Patalong.

The most recent election results for nationalist and anti-Islam parties have shown how poisoned the thinking in Europe already is, writes Deutsche Welle's Felix Steiner.

The debate over "multiculturalism"
Reuters reports: British Prime Minister David Cameron, Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy have all declared in recent months that multiculturalism has failed, in speeches that were otherwise careful to highlight the contribution of immigrants.

But critics say such statements at best do little to offer solutions to tackle the economic and societal pressures that stem from increasing immigration and globalization, and do even less to harness the benefits of a multi-ethnic society.

At worst, they say such comments risk victimizing often vulnerable immigrant communities and souring race relations.

"What has clearly emerged from recent speeches and ensuing public national debates on multiculturalism is a sense of confusion, malaise and often contradictory messages," said Sara Silvestri, lecturer in religion and international politics at London's City University.

"So we look for easy answers presented as simple choices e.g., moderate vs. radical Islam, multiculturalism vs. assimilation ... Yet such simplistic naming and categorising further divides people and provokes animosities," she added.

The online radicalization of the far-right
Thomas Hylland Eriksen is an anthropologist at the department of social anthropology, University of Oslo. He writes in the Guardian:

There is a reason why the Norwegian police have not been overly concerned with rightwing extremism in recent years. It is plainly not very visible. An estimated 40 Norwegians currently belong to self-proclaimed extreme rightwing groups.

However, anyone familiar with the darker waters of the blogosphere would for years have been aware of the existence of a vibrant cyberscene characterised by unmitigated hatred of the new Europe, aggressive denunciations of the "corrupted, multiculturalist power elites" and pejorative generalisations about immigrants, targeting Muslims in particular.

Contributors to these websites, blogs and chat groups cannot merely be labelled "rightwing". One member of the Norwegian "Forum Against Islamisation" was also a member of the Socialist Left party. Others see themselves as the true heirs of social democratic values, or as the last carriers of the torch of the Enlightenment. Many talk about gender equality, some about social injustices and class. Others hold more conventional rightwing views, ranging from downright racism to paranoid conspiracy theories about Muslims plotting to take political control of western Europe. Some are online daily; others drop in once a month. They constitute loose networks and cannot easily be counted.

Resurgent far-right in Europe
** "While the main terrorist threat to democratic societies around the world still comes from Islamist extremists, the horrific events in Norway are a reminder that white far-right extremism is also a major and possibly growing threat," said James Brandon, research head at London's Quilliam think-tank.

** "If the twin attacks in Norway fail to trigger an honest discussion of the issue, exposing often scare-mongering arguments used by the extreme right, this may marginalize the radical groups and worsen the situation, which in turn could bring more similar attacks in the future," said Lilit Gevorgyan, Europe analyst at the IHS Global Insight think-tank. "This is not just an issue in Norway. Across Scandinavia and also in Western and Eastern Europe, you have a lot of people who are very frustrated by the lack of open debate," she added.

CNN's Tim Lister reports:
The far right in Europe has enjoyed a renaissance over the past 30 years, driven by resentment of the growing powers of the European Union and by rejection of the "multiculturalism" that has accompanied rapid immigration from the developing world.

Political parties opposing immigration and integration have done well in elections in recent years - and beyond them, neo-fascist and "national socialist" groups have become well-established across the continent, including in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Scandinavia, Hungary and the United Kingdom.

Most of those belonging to such groups would not contemplate the sort of carnage that occurred in Norway on Friday, but they would probably sympathize with what appears to have been the manifesto of the alleged assailant, Anders Behring Breivik.

Breivik's manifesto
"The order is to serve as an armed Indigenous Rights Organization and as a Crusader Movement (anti-Jihad movement)," reads a manifesto, appearing to have been written by Breivik. Chunks of the document are cut and pasted from other far-right, anti-Islam documents on the Internet. (More on the manifesto and highlights)

Breivik says he is not against immigrants who integrate and reserves a lot of his fury for a liberal European political establishment he views as promoting Europe's destruction.

He hints at a wider conspiracy in the document, saying that the Knights Templar, a medieval order of crusading warrior monks, had been reconstituted in London in 2002.

Breivik attacks the "Islamic colonization and Islamization of Western Europe" and the "rise of cultural Marxism multi-culturalism".

Parts of the document use the same wording as the 35,000-word anti-technology manifesto written by "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski and published in the Washington Post in 1995.

In one passage, the document published online last week uses the same wording as the Unabomber's manifesto, but substitutes the phrase "cultural Marxist" where Kaczynski used the word "leftist," and uses the word "Muslims" where Kaczynski used the phrase "black people."

The McVeigh comparison
A clean-cut young man buys tons of fertilizer, which he uses to create a massive explosive. He puts it into a box truck, brings it into the middle of the city, and then sets off a massive, and deadly, explosion. This happened in 1995, when Timothy McVeigh unleashed terror in Oklahoma City. And it happened again Friday in Oslo, Norway, when police say a 32-year-old man carried out twin terror attacks in that Nordic nation.


soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Dele.

    Sarah, so, republican slavers like you think you are rich simply because you can keep foreigners around you just for a token. You are not to blame. If governments off those countries had taken care of their citizens, you would have probably employed your own fellow countrymen for such dirty jobs. You have actually given us an insight to why pro-multiculturalist governments uphold such idea.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Reply
    • ironranger

      Dele,

      If you think that post from 'sarahpalin' was real,,,,,,,,,then you are too bright......the poster obviously is a liberal democrat that hates Palin......its a disease here in the USA........anytime you have someone claim to be a rich republican, its always a democrat hiding to slander a republican.........they are children, but what can we do......O ya we will be throwing their moronic leader out of the WhiteHouse next year..........can't wait!

      August 21, 2011 at 8:27 am | Reply
  2. baotian

    There isn't a group of people on this planet that wouldn't react with xenophobia when faced with a future where their own likeness is overrun by foreigners. It's simply a human condition. Turn this situation on any country and there will be resentment.

    It's easy to preach tolerance when you're the minority whose homeland isn't at risk. That political correctness is exactly why the world can't move forward with race relations.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:40 am | Reply
  3. T klimchuk

    When ever a muslim commits an attack of terror its due to the failure of multi-curturalism and the failure to understand them when a person other then a muslim commits an attack they are laballed a rightwing nuts

    July 27, 2011 at 3:34 am | Reply
  4. hotmaile

    European, US and other countries should exercise stringest controls in allowing immigration of Middle Eastern, African and Asians origins. Not all these would be refugees are legiitimate Asylim seekers or facing persecution or death due to political or religious views. Most of these are from the lowest echelons of the society: opportunists, mercenaries and the like!! Very difficult to assimilate in societies hosting them and treated them with respect and dignity in view of lack of eduacation and culture! Not even their own! These governments are losing objectivity to gain cheap labor and are paying the prices nowadays. Europeans should learn to respect all jobs! Menial jobs1? By the way I am a Muslim from the middle east and have other nationality and have lived in US and Europe. I am talking from own obseravtions.

    July 28, 2011 at 5:35 am | Reply
  5. gliese42

    I am not a white man but I believe that monoculture is possible as shown by the chinese or indians in Europe and US. Intermarriage has worked and the reason is simple that there is no discussion of religion. No death sentence is imposed if you leave your religion. Most of us are more concern with the economy.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:08 am | Reply
  6. tyganty

    one conclusion
    No muslims-no problem

    July 31, 2011 at 4:33 am | Reply
  7. lmdevil

    This report seems to me slanted to the left. The problem is not the coexistence of multiple races or cultures. The problem is that coexistence of any kind requires at least sharing some basic principles. And the question is whether Islamic principles (you know, Sharia Law) are compatible with our dearest values of humanism. This is admittedly a bold question, but one that deserves an answer, rather than outright condemnation. By equating anti multiculturalism with extremism, fanaticism or racism, the press is hiding the problem under the carpet.

    July 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  8. Roelof

    "pro-Western, exceedingly pro-American and friendly to Israel – but extremely anti-Muslim, aggressively Christian and openly hostile to everything which is liberal, leftist, multi-cultural or internationalist" I could fit in that profile, without that aggressively. Our western culture is based on Judaism/Christianity/Modern Humanism and old Greek philosophical norms and values. I'm very pleased with those, so I'm pro-western, pro Israel and pro Christianity. I'm also aware that democracy is a tool where demography is the leading factor. I'm against other cultures that are political. Like communism and that have sharia. Does that make me a monster? No. It's like when you pro your own culture, your a monster.

    August 2, 2011 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • gliese42

      Roelof@ totally agreed with you

      August 2, 2011 at 9:16 am | Reply
  9. Roelof

    What I do blame left, is that they maintain the idea or illusion in non-western countries that there is room for everyone in western countries. Like our culture can handle everything. That's not true.

    August 2, 2011 at 9:16 am | Reply
  10. Roelof

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDtisgnSZCc&w=640&h=390]

    President of Norway before the attack.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:24 am | Reply
  11. Jag

    One of the problem with these countries that they are restricted in their vision by the government and media, I have travelled a lot and noticed these countries have major media from western world which is said by BBC or CNN local not world news and world of multicultural supporting programs which will understand then that the world is lots more than what they think and it is not the world is just revolving around these countries...... grow up.... and I am sorry to see this happen in Norway which has good concern on humanity...

    August 3, 2011 at 8:52 am | Reply
  12. ElTIpo

    Thaks God!!!
    I live in Finland and just it's the same. Here had been several terror acts. The first thing the finnish people think is that ARE THE ARABS ATTACKING OUR COUNTRY? WE GIVE THEM EVERY THING!!!
    And when finally find out it's was native finn, they say, Oh!, it's ok. How can that happened in our beautiful country?
    Behind this "beauty" are many problems. Sad!!

    August 26, 2011 at 1:07 am | Reply
  13. Which would you call yourself....

    If we listened to those who say "multiculturalism" can never work, that we're just too darned different from one another to live together peacefully, we'd never have freed the slaves in the US or, freeing them, we'd have sent them all to Africa on boats. The same types of arguments were made then. That blacks' "natural condition" was slavery, that he "couldn't live like civilized (sic) white men". That it was "ordained by God" that some men should serve others, etc.
    Today the same types of people are trying to convince us that all Muslims are warlike, backward, and on and on. Some believe a great war to be "ordained by God", that Jesus is coming back in the clouds to lead his followers in a great war against the unholy hordes in the middle east. Extremists are the same regardless of their particular flavor.

    August 29, 2011 at 6:56 am | Reply
    • Brulluhman

      Your pointing at western countries that should be tolerant. Muslims shouldn't that would be racism. Like that it's going on for a long time now and it seems that muslims are most racist and fascist club in the west. The mullticulti in Holland (230 times smaller than the USA) costs 7,2 billion euro a year. And we don't even like Islam. So we're paying 7,2 billion euro for something we don't like. Just because most of them are black, we can't say anything about it. Multi culturalism doesn't work. It failed. A multi racial society under the umbrella of one culture has it's turbulances, but does work (when there aint totalitairian and political ideologies involved). The Brussel university did some research on fascism amongst muslim population. It seemed that over 50% of the muslims is nazi. You also see that in nazi Mecca, only for muslims.
      Those whole crusades were a reaction on Arab muslims slaughtering Christians and Jews and ban them from visiting Jerusalem. Or La reconquista (reconquering) because muslims (Moroccan and Arabs) suppressed the non-muslims. It's even a damn rule in their quran to discriminate non-muslims. What is tolerance, when it's a one way street?? The west might think multi-culture is possible, Islam is against a multi cultural society. There are dozens of suras that tell not to be friends with infidels. So they come to the west. They aint our friends. So what are they?? And what are they doing in the west?? Integrating?? 7,2 billion euro a year.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Reply
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