The Guardian of London in its editorial of 24th July correctly advised the readers to remain humble and objective and not to jump to conclusion lest they risk missing the reality that the massacre in Norway was perhaps “above all a catastrophic psychopathic event”. The advice was timely as immediately after the terror attack the finger of blame was put at Islamic radicals and al-Qaeda. Those who had chosen the Islamists as guilty had no end of justifications --¬NATO activities in Libya, cartoon relating to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), racist discrimination in Europe etc.
But soon it was revealed that the perpetrator of the ghastly act was Anders Behring Breivik, the self-confessed terrorist and a right wing extremist who hates Muslims, multiculturalism and the left. He believed in the promotion of Catholicism, freemasonry and Knight Templar and supported the “Vienna School of Thought” who are against multiculturalism and the spread of Islam.
His 1500 page manifesto posted on the web and titled “2083: European Declaration of Independence” exhorted Europeans to take political and military control of West European countries and implement a conservative political agenda.
“What most people do not understand’ he wrote “is that the ongoing Islamisation of Europe cannot be stopped before one gets to grips with the political doctrine which makes it possible”.
Surprisingly The Norwegian counter insurgency appears to have been so engrossed with Islamic extremism that they had little time to focus on growing domestic fascism and people like Andreas Breivik who wrote in February last year that almost a quarter of young British Muslims were supporters of al-Qaeda.
But then both Europeans and Americans, to a lesser degree, have been open in their criticism and fear of Islamic extremism and in France, Germany and some European countries political leaders have publicly denounced multiculturalism as unworkable in their societies and thus put millions of Muslims, who have little practice of the Islamic faith, at jeopardy and subjected to discrimination in their day to day life.
The riots that had erupted in France when Nicholas Sarkozy was interior Minister (before he became President) resulted from exclusion of the young Muslims from the benefits of a French citizen and their loyalty was questioned though they had never seen the land of their ancestors to which they were asked to go.
Millions of the Muslim diaspora in the West were left to find a perilous existence as second class citizens in the land of their birth. That such a policy is unjust is irrefutable. Yet one has to take into account the security concern of the developed economies that, many in those economies feel, is rooted in the religion of Islam.
Whether it is so and Islam does not preach violence are questions better left to theologians well versed in the texts and interpretations of the holy books of different faiths. What is important is the public perception of Christians about Muslims, a brutal expression of which the world witnessed in the carnage in Norway.
Despite President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron and other Western leaders’ pronouncements that the “war on terror” is not being waged against Islam several research results have shown Westerners to be reluctant to accept Muslims as their neighbors and similar survey in the Islamic world, particularly in Pakistan, has shown that the US, the greatest financier of Pakistan’s war with Taliban and its fragile economy, is regarded as the primary enemy of the people.
Pakistanis feel deeply humiliated by the American killing of Osama bin Laden in Abottabad without their knowledge, seen as a breach of Pak sovereignty, forgetting that in this world today sovereignty and territorial integrity inscribed in the UN Charter, described by John Foster Dulles as a pre-atomic document, is largely invalid where membership of the international community is contingent upon the nations of the world in following civilized norms of behavior with regard to their citizens as well as to those beyond their national borders.
Derogation from Westphallian concept of sovereignty has been evolving for quiet sometime, more so during the Cold War when then two super powers had no qualms in invading countries within their area of influence (Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Granada, Haiti, Panama Etc,) for “ erroneous” policy followed by these states.
Whether some of these military interventions were for justifiable reasons though illegal under international law is a matter of another debate. The moot point remains that from the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine military intervention or threat thereof were dictated by the perception of the powerful countries as to what threatened their strategic interests. The gung-ho invasion of Iraq by George W Bush on the false premise of Saddam Hussein’ intention to attack the West with weapons of mass destruction and his unproved links with al-Qaeda produced collateral damage in the form of powerful Christianity trying to decimate weak Islamic countries.
Anders Behring Breivik is an example of extreme xenophobia gone wrong where the victims were all Christians though in his warped mind he was fighting the Muslims and voicing his opposition to immigration “polluting” the purity of the white race and liberalism, so close to Hitler’s concepts of racial purity and his aversion to communism.
Finnish commentator Aris Rusila (After Norwegian massacre¬way forward to prevent similar actions) wrote, “Extremism, xenophobia and racism can only be slightly limited by state or top level actions, besides this approach would lead towards controlled security based police state with limited civil liberties”.
He suggests development of local democracy and citizens’ participation channels from pseudo-democracy to decisive power -- then people would not have feeling that their needs and thoughts are ignored. Inter related with this debate is Jurgen Habermas’s claim of the emergence of the post-secular world explored at length by Cesare Merlini, Chairman of Italian Institute of International Affairs( Survival-April-May 2011).
Merlini thinks that though popular support for the Catholic church might have declined due to the sexual deviations of some priests and the Vatican’s efforts to suppress the scandal, the decline was more than offset by the rise of neo-Protestants, ¬Evangelists, Pentacostalists and others¬ that contributed to the resurgence of religion in the West and the spread of this resurgence in Africa, Latin America and East Asia .
One of the reasons the Americans support Israel against their better judgment is because many believe that the return of Jesus is conditional to the return of the Israelites to the Holy Land. Thus an undercurrent of conflict between Islam and Christianity arose between the West and the Muslim world.
Breivik’s anger against the ruling Labour party in Norway, as described in his manifesto, was due to the “failure” of the Labour government to defend the country from Islamic influence, and his insane fear that European identity will be lost in what he called “Marxist multiculturalism”.
European countries must bear the responsibility of ignoring the rise of extreme right despite open display of anti-immigration and anti-Islamic chauvinism and putting their full attention to the possible threat posed by Islamic extremists. Yet one must applaud Norwegian Prime Minister’s declaration that “we will never abandon our values. Our reply is; more democracy, more openness, and more humanity”. The world beset as it is with myriad of problems threatening the existence of this planet can hardly afford the fissures that would separate further the different parts of the globe.