Horrible atrocities took place in Oslo and Utøya last friday. I was asked by a journalist friend, Daniel Basteiro to write an article for the Spanish publication Publico. Here is the English version I sent, which was translated into Spanish.
The bombing in Oslo and the slaughter of more than 80 teenagers at Labour’s youth camp at Utøya broke my heart. How is it possible for one man to execute such atrocity?
I’ve read, seen and listened to everything related to the massacre. Again and again. Not necessarily to understand it because I already know this evil madness cannot find any rational explanation. But rather to understand how we can go on after this.
However, here are some of the details we know about the attacker:
The 32-year old “home grown” Norwegian terrorist was not known by the police in Norway. As far as we know, the authorities were not keeping an eye on him. Anders Behring Breivik managed to create the largest and most horrible atrocity in Norway since the Second World War. However, his views and opinions were not a secret.
Organizations such as the Norwegian Centre against Racism, which monitors Islam/immigration sceptic web sites, had followed him for some time at the web site Document.no. Here, Breivik argued what it means to be a “real” Norwegian (unlike a khat-chewing Somali, as he wrote).
However, his views are not unique. It is striking to read that Knut Olav Åmås, culture editor of Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, says that he daily recieves debate articles that replicate the writings by Breivik. You can also read similar, but less articulated arguments on the websites of VG, Dagbladet and Hegnar online – the Norwegian news sites with highest traffic.
Breivik was also a member of the Progressive Party for 10 years, a political party known for its immigration scepticism, although they have never had governmental power. We know less about how much influence he had within the party. Breivik ended his membership in 2007.
What shocks me most about Breivik’s strategy, in addition to the all the human lives he managed to kill, is his manifesto. This killer was not stupid. Rather he was intelligent, structured – but at the same time – totally twisted. Only a few days before the horror started, he released an online manifesto in the name of Andrew Berwick, in addition to sending it to the True Finns, the Finnish right wing party.
In the manifesto, he explains how the atrocities are a marketing device for his manifest, his grand plan for an independent Europe without Muslims. With the manifest or diary, he wants to make it easy for other people to follow in his footsteps. It is a manifest for a European civil war, according the Norwegian blogger Bjørn Stærk (I haven’t read the manifesto myself), where culture conservative “pure” Europeans (the good) fight the alliance of politically correct cultural Marxist and Muslims (the evil).
Apparently, he has worked on this disgusting plan for nine years and spent 300.000 euros planning the massacre.
Softness on immigration seems to be the reason why he attacked the governmental buildings (where his own father and stepbrother used to work) and political youth from the Labour party.
As more and more details about the attacker are uncovered, I’m still convinced his evil ideas will be defeated. He wants us to hate immigrants, but Anders Behring Breivik himself involuntarily demonstrates why immigrants become immigrants in the first place. Why they run away from massacres and bombs in their home countries.
My biggest hope for Norway, the Norwegian public discourse and Norway’s civic society came when I heard the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg speaking on the same evening as the horrible events took place in Oslo and at Utøya.
“We must never give up our values.
We must show that our open society can pass this test too.
That the answer to violence is even more democracy.
Even more humanity.
But never naivity.
That is something we owe the victims and their families.”
Those are incredibly beautiful words for someone who cherishes and works for openness, transparency, democracy, humanity. We are so used to revengeful international political leaders shouting “We’re gonna hunt you down” after a terrorist attack that it is almost shocking to hear words such as democracy and openness in the same context.
However, we will see certain changes in Norway. We will see more security in public buildings. We can also expect the intelligence service to spend more resources on Norway’s right wing environment. The past years, foreign threats have recieved most of the police’s attention.
But as Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre stated: “Tomorrow’s Norway will be fully recognizable.” The attacker’s political ideas are already available for everyone to read. Yesterday, a young Labour politician said on Twitter: “Bring the attacker’s political ideas to the table, and we will debate them to death”.
Norway is ready to fight terrorism with more democracy, more openness – without being naive.