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We Condemn the Norway Carnage as a Terrorist Act
The Violence is Not Our Culture campaign (VNC Campaign) expresses its deepest sorrows to the people of Norway following the horrible terrorist attacks in Oslo that left some 76 persons dead. The VNC campaign condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist acts in Norway as well as the extremist, bigoted and racist ideology that underpins it.
'Culturally-justified' violence occurs in all faiths, nations, and societies. In the midst of tremendous grieving, we are reminded of the dangers of right-wing extremism, Christian fundamentalism, and bigoted anti-Muslim sentiments that can and do turn deadly. We are also reminded that violence and hatred are expressed in all cultures and religions. We now know that the deadly terrorist attacks in Oslo were committed by a far right wing Norwegian Christian fundamentalist who harbored anti-woman, anti-Muslim, anti-socialist and anti-multiculturalism political beliefs. The suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, is a veritable racist, sexist and Islamophobe who writes that the Qur’an commands Muslims to be extremists. His attack on the Labour party reflect his belief that the Party and its supporters insufficiently hate people of other religions, nationalities and cultures, and thus deserve to be destroyed.
Unfortunately, many politicians, journalists, and commentators reverted their premature prognosis from ‘terrorism’ to the less damning ‘extremism’ following the realization that the attacker was not Muslim. Their actions reflect a double standard of the worst possible kind. Calling the politically-motivated mass murder of 76 innocents (many of them youths) the act of a ‘lone-wolf’ or ‘mad-man’ fails to respect those victims by ignoring or dismissing the root causes – the discourses and structures of hate and bigotry – that caused this attack.
The terrorist attacks in Oslo makes it absolutely clear that we can no longer ignore right-wing extremism in Europe or North America. This is not the first act of terrorism by neo-Nazi or Christian fundamentalist groups, and it is naïve to think that those who committed such acts are not as organized or ambitious as Al-Qaeda or any Muslim terrorist network. In fact, Breivik has already suggested that he was not alone in the planning and implementation of the Oslo attacks.
Likewise, Breivik and his fundamentalist ilk are veritable women-haters, and relentlessly promote an anti-woman agenda. Breivik’s hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and the two ultimately depend on each other in his ideology. In his rambling 1500-page manifesto, Breivik condemns feminism for destroying the West from inside and creating a space for Islamism. He describes his fury at the way sexual instability has affected his own life, and condemns what he calls the ‘feminization’ of men in Europe, blaming feminist women throughout.
Breivik explicitly mentions writers who inspired his anti-woman bigotry. One of the books he references approvingly is Patrick Buchanan’s The Death of the West, which argues, “[T]he rise of feminism spells the death of the nation and the end of the West.” In this and other works, selfish Western women have reportedly allowed Muslims to outbreed them, and prescribes the restoration of patriarchy in order to save European culture. Thus, while Breivik and other Christian fundamentlists pretends to abhor Muslim subjugation of women, he writes that the “fate of European civilisation depends on European men steadfastly resisting Politically Correct feminism.” When cultural conservatives seize control of Europe, he promises, “we will re-establish the patriarchal structures.” Eventually, women “conditioned” to this new order “will know her place in society.” His mad act was in the service of male superiority as well as Christian nationalism. Indeed, patriarchy, Christian fundamentalism and Islamophobic racism are three pillars in this hate-filled ideology, one that derives its legitimacy from the need to revitalize ‘European culture’.
The VNC campaign is particularly troubled by the immediate rush in the media to blame Muslims for this horrific attack. In the minutes and hours following the attacks in Oslo, prominent and respected journalists reported, without basis, that Muslims were responsible. We are starkly disappointed by once-authoritative news sources that rushed to blaming Al-Qaeda or an ‘Al-Qaeda-like’ Muslim extremist groups for the attacks without sufficient cause or evidence. Even more disappointing is the fact that few issued revisions or corrections on previous coverage they later discovered to be false.
Like many human rights and activist groups, we depend on responsible news coverage for information and were misled by such ‘journalism’. Moreover, such false claims are not only irresponsible, they are flat out reckless and puts the lives of innocent individuals at serious risk of backlash or revenge attacks.
Law-abided conservatives who question or critique European policies on ‘multiculturalism’ are no more responsible for Anders Breivik as law-abiding Muslims are for Osama bin Laden. The difference is that ordinary Muslims are constantly expected to renounce, disavow, and apologize for acts with which they are in no way connected. In contrast, critics of so-called ‘Islamization’ of Europe can continue to pronounce their thinly veiled racist and sexist attitudes unabashed, even after a deadly terrorist attack is committed in their name.
We urge governments, the media and the general public to do everything in our power to critically examine, challenge and resist the arguments and justifications posed by individuals and forces represented by the likes of Breivik and the Al Qaeda for their abominable acts of terrorism. Let us turn our grief into vigilance and commitment to put an end to all forms of bigotry and extremism.
27 July 2011