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Opinion Norway's Challenge

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
July 24, 2011

Norway’s challenge

Europe’s fringe right-wing extremists present a real danger to society. But Oslo’s devastating tragedy should not be allowed to be manipulated by those who would cover up the abject failure of multiculturalism.

The cold-blooded calculation of the Norway tragedy boggles the mind. For over an hour, Anders Behring Breivik, 32, dressed as a police officer and armed with a rifle and a hand gun, prowled Utoeya, a tiny forested holiday island a few dozen kilometers from Oslo, calmly massacring teenagers.

The youngsters had been attending the annual summer camp for the youth wing of Norway’s ruling Labor party.

With no one armed to confront Breivik, escape from the island by water was the only avenue to safety.

When he finally was forced to put down his weapons by a police team that reportedly took 40 minutes to respond, at least 86 were dead and many more were wounded.

Just hours before Breivik, a former member of a populist anti-immigration party who wrote blogs attacking multiculturalism and Islam, had detonated a bomb in Oslo’s government district that killed seven.

The attacks, which targeted a government known for its embrace of multiculturalist policies, are being billed as the worst incident of bloodshed on Norwegian soil since World War II.

As Israelis, a people that is sadly all too familiar with the horrors of indiscriminate, murderous terrorism, our hearts go out with empathy to the Norwegian people, who perhaps more than any other nation symbolize the unswerving – and sometimes naïve – pursuit of peace.

Oslo is the namesake of one of the most ambitious – and misguided – attempts by Israel, under the mediation of the Norwegians, to reach a peace accord with our Palestinian neighbors.

Norway’s capital is where the Nobel Peace Prize is presented annually. And though Norway has troops in Afghanistan to bolster the allied forces there, the basically peaceful nature of Norwegians goes a long way to explaining the utter shock that has gripped the nation in the wake of the tragedy and the blatant incongruity of the conspicuous deployment of security forces in city centers to safeguard citizens.

Now along with their dogged pursuit of peace, the Norwegians are also coming to grips with the reality of evil in their midst. It would be wrongheaded, however, to allow the fact that this terrible tragedy was perpetrated by a right-wing extremist to detract attention from the underlying problems faced not only by Norway, but by many Western European nations.

Undoubtedly, there will be those – particularly on the Left – who will extrapolate out from Breivik’s horrific act that the real danger facing contemporary Europe is rightwing extremism and that criticism of multiculturalism is nothing more than so much Islamophobia.

While it is still too early to determine definitively Breivik’s precise motives, it could very well be that the attack was more pernicious – and more widespread – than the isolated act of a lunatic. Perhaps Brievik’s inexcusable act of vicious terror should serve not only as a warning that there may be more elements on the extreme Right willing to use violence to further their goals, but also as an opportunity to seriously reevaluate policies for immigrant integration in Norway and elsewhere. While there is absolutely no justification for the sort of heinous act perpetrated this weekend in Norway, discontent with multiculturalism’s failure must not be delegitimatized or mistakenly portrayed as an opinion held by only the most extremist elements of the Right.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have both recently lamented the "failure of multiculturalism" in their respective countries.

Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Prize laureate for welfare economics from India, has noted how terribly impractical it is to believe that the coexistence of an array of cultures in close proximity will lead to peace. Without a shared cultural foundation, no meaningful communication among diverse groups is possible, Sen has argued.

Norway, a country so oriented toward promoting peace, where the Muslim population is forecast to increase from 3 percent to 6.5% of the population by 2030, should heed Sen’s incisive analysis.

The challenge for Norway in particular and for Europe as a whole, where the Muslim population is expected to account for 8% of the population by 2030 according to a Pew Research Center, is to strike the right balance. Fostering an open society untainted by xenophobia or racism should go hand in hand with protection of unique European culture and values.

Europe’s fringe right-wing extremists present a real danger to society. But Oslo’s devastating tragedy should not be allowed to be manipulated by those who would cover up the abject failure of multiculturalism.

The editor-in-chief adds: As a newspaper, The Jerusalem Post strongly denounces all acts of violence against innocent civilians. This editorial is not aimed at deflecting attention from the horrific massacre perpetuated in Norway, nor the need to take greater precautions against extremists from all sides.

Source: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Editorials/Article.aspx?id=230788


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Jan 5, 2011
One Society Many Cultures Newsletter
One Society Many Cultures condemns Norway attacks and calls on government to take measures to eradicate far right terror
One Society Many Cultures (OSMC) condemns the horrific twin attacks in Norway on Friday, which saw a bombing in Oslo and shootings at the Labour Party youth camp in Utoeya which have claimed the lives of at least 86 people. Our thoughts and condolences are with the families, friends and loved ones of those who have been affected by this attack.

Reports indicate that Anders Behring Breivik, charged in connection to these attacks, has made anti-Muslim comments on internet postings, and that he was seeking to set up a Norwegian version of the English Defence League (EDL). Initial media reports wrongly suggested that the attack could have originated from Al Qaida or Islamic terrorists, due to Norway's role in NATO, Afghanistan and Libya.

Sabby Dhalu, Secretary of One Society Many Cultures said:

"We send our condolences, thoughts and sympathy to the families of all those who have been affected, to the relatives and friends of the victims of this heinous crime, and to the people of Norway. We join the international community in calling for justice for these victims and their families. We are outraged by these despicable terrorist attacks and welcome the condemnation of these attacks by the Prime Minister, the Queen and other prominent figures in Britain and around the world.

"We are concerned at the initial response from media reports which sought, without any evidence, to suggest that the perpetrators were of Islamic origin. The media must act responsibly at this sensitive time; in other instances, scapegoating of the Muslim community led to reprisal attacks against innocent Muslims and others. The recent events which have put a spotlight on the practices of the media must now extend to change the culture which sees a knee-jerk reaction to stereotype Muslims.

"In stark contrast, the media reports now suggest that Anders Behring Breivik has anti-Muslim sentiments, sympathy with the far right, and particularly the English Defence League (EDL).

"The anti-racist movement in Britain has consistently warned of the links of far right groups such as the EDL and the British National Party's acts of terrorism and violence, and the climate of Islamophobia which has emboldened them. However, the EDL have been allowed regular protests around the country, many of which have ended in violence, mostly directed at Muslim communities and Mosques.

"We call on the government to integrate far right and fascist terror into Britain's counter-terrorism strategy. The Home Secretary's recent Prevent review report has been heavily criticised for its potential to stigmatise the Muslim community; it also made no mention of the EDL, BNP or the nail bombing of London in 1999 by BNP sympathiser David Copeland. This approach needs urgent rethinking in order to prevent further terrorist violence from the far right.â€
Claude Moraes MEP - Learning from the terror attacks in Norway
Claude Moraes MEP writes on the increasing incidents of far-right terrorism in Europe, and the lack of reporting on these disturbing plots. He highlights how mainstream politics has been complacent about the far right overall, who have a presence in a number of European parliaments, despite having a history of violence.
click here for full article
Norway's tragedy must shake Europe into action
Aslak Sira Myhre, director of the House of Literature in Oslo outlines the pervasive history of terrorist violence by far right groups in Norway, and highlights the need to challenge homegrown right wing extremism, Islamophobia and racism.
click here for full article
Statistics on terror plots in Europe - overwhemingly non-Muslim
Robert Lambert, Co-Director of the European Muslim Research Centre hightlights the terrorists plots by far right sympathisers in Britain and Europe, including by former BNP candidate Robert Cottage who was found with the largest cache of explosives of its type ever found in Britain, as well as highlighting Europol stats which show that of the hundreds of terror plots in Europe in recent years, a handful have been plotted by Islamic terrorists.