The Norway outrage was the inevitable outcome of years of demonization of the Muslims and must come as a wake-up call to both the West and India
Are we really living in end times? Every new day brings a new outrage, a new horror. No one seems to be safe anywhere–not even in the serene Norwegian paradise. But then, as Bible warns, you reap as you sow. And Europe is reaping what its politicians and assorted purveyors of hatred have sown all these years.
The perpetual demonization and vilification of the Other and the endless talk of creeping Shariah and Islamisation of Europe had to show its results someday on the ground. And it did in Norway this past week.
Still there are many out there who continue to live in denial. Within a couple of hours of the terror attacks, television pundits, from CNN’s Richard Quest to BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardener, had persuaded themselves that they were the handiwork of ‘Islamist terrorists.’ Soon Rupert Murdoch’s Sun was screaming: ‘AL QAEDA MASSACRE: NORWAY’S 9/11’
And then the pundits went about identifying the reasons why Muslims “hated” the all-embracing Scandinavian paradise. They hated Norway because of its role in Afghanistan and Libya, they said. They hated it because of its freedoms and liberal society, as Bush revealed long ago. They hated it because some Norwegian newspapers had reproduced the Prophet’s cartoons.
Next morning the whole thing was turned on its head when it emerged it wasn’t the Muslims after all but Norway’s own homebred, all-white, Christian son behind Europe’s biggest mass murder by an individual in recent memory. The wonks were in no hurry to condemn Anders Breivik as a “Christian terrorist” though.
They went to great lengths to paint him as a lone ranger who had turned the guns on his own kind in a fit of rage. He did not represent the peace-loving people of Norway or Europe, they asserted. Of course, he didn’t. But was he an aberration? Was it a random act of madness? I wouldn’t think so.
Indeed, the more details about the attacks emerge, the clearer it becomes it was no act of momentary madness. The attacks were the wages for years of hate campaign and propaganda against Muslims. So most tragic as the carnage was, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the madness that has been going on in the name of fighting terror.
Those trying to portray Breivik as a lonely lunatic, an outsider, are not just wrong, they are out of sync with a dangerous reality. They live in denial of the fast spreading malaise of rabid Islamophobia and intolerance on both sides of the Atlantic and its consequences.
This is not an isolated case of one man going off the bend and on the rampage but represents a growing threat. Breivik’s actions, patiently planned and executed over nine years, are consistent with the periodic mass violence European fascists have carried out in recent years. More important, this ‘madness’ is rooted in mainstream discourse that one hears even from politicians like Nicolas Sarkozy.
Breivik’s 1,500-page doctrine, put online weeks before the carnage, champions a global apocalyptical crusade against Islam that now supposedly threatens the territory, morals and culture of Western civilization, indeed the whole world. In a June 11 entry, Breivik says: “I explained to God that unless he wanted the certain Islamic takeover of Europe he must ensure the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail.”
And it’s not just Caucasian Christians that Breivik sought to enlist for his cause, he reached out to both the Zionists of Israel and our own Hindutva friends in India. Indeed, Israel’s policies appear to have inspired our hero. There’s a method in the madness of targeting teenaged Labour Party supporters on Utoya Island. Eskil Pedersen, the youth leader of Labour party, has of late increasingly censured Israel, calling for an international boycott of the regime.
The intense hatred for Edward Said, the distinguished Palestinian author of Orientalism who had the audacity to hold a mirror to the Empire, is matched by admiration for luminaries like Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer, all known for their ‘preoccupation’ with Islam and Muslims.
Again, it’s not surprising that Breivik sees Hindu zealots dreaming of driving Muslims out to create a Greater India stretching from Afghanistan to Burma as crucial allies in the global crusade against Islam. He devotes 102 pages to India and the successful Hindutva campaign targeting the common enemy.
Applauding Hindu groups that “do not tolerate the current injustice and often riot and attack Muslims” he suggests, “Hindus are suffering from the same persecution as their European cousins. It’s essential that European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate.”
So this monster’s manifesto indeed is the Mein Kampf of our times, as The Economist puts it; only Jews are replaced by Muslims as the Enemy who must be fought and expunged from the face of the earth.
Breivik’s worldview is a lethal mix of Christian zealotry and extreme Islamophobia. And this isn’t one man’s obsession. Generations of Europeans and Americans have grown up on a heavy diet of bigotry peddled by politicians like Geert Wilders of Netherlands, who compared the Holy Quran to Hitler’s Mein Kempf, and Marine Le Pen of France and Newt Gingrich, Peter King and televangelists like Pat Robertson in the land of the free.
Feeding on the stereotypes and paranoia about Muslims, this new breed of fascism that not surprisingly turns to Israel for inspiration, poses a clear and present danger to our world. As Chris Hedges argues, the gravest threat we face today comes not from the Islamic world but the radical Christian right and the secular fundamentalists who propagate the bigoted, hateful caricatures of Muslims.
Breivik alone has killed more people than the four 7/7 bombers did. Indeed, more people may have died in the violence by neo-fascist, radical right groups since the Great War than all the attacks, blamed on Muslims, put together.
Yet Western governments have so far treated such groups with kid gloves. Just as India’s rulers have turned a blind eye to Hindu extremists despite their implication in recent terror attacks and mass violence targeting Muslims. Indeed, police turn on the victims after every such atrocity.
Inaction is a luxury the world cannot afford though, if it is to avoid more mindless carnage and a bigger conflict–in the West or in India. If we continue this way, the confrontation that Samuel Huntington obsessed over all his life cannot for long remain an academic hypothesis. Norway is a wake-up call. Let’s not wait for the next great war to take place between Islam and the West.