Sunday, 22 April 2012

The hatred and fear that stalks Europe

The trial of Anders Breivik in Norway this week has revealed the dangers of resurgent fascism across Europe. His own testimony has shown that he hates the multicultural society in which different communities live together and work together and targets immigration as a cause. He hates Islam, viewing it as a threat to his idea of ‘civilization’, which obviously involves murdering innocent people. Anders Breivik bombed government buildings in Oslo killing 8 then massacred 69 people on the island of Utøya, mostly teenagers attending a summer camp.

The poison of his ideas was matched by his deeds, revealing the problem with allowing fascists to air their racism. When they are allowed to speak and organize, it gives them confidence to attack, terrorize and kill. The trial of Anders Breivik illustrates that the main threat of terrorism comes from the far-right fundamentalists.

People like Breivik do not develop their evil in isolation. When George W. Bush and Tony Blair launched war on the Muslim world in 2001, invading Afghanistan then Iraq, they claimed it was about terrorism and Islamic extremists. Muslims were killed in huge numbers in what Bush called a ‘crusade’, echoing the Christian fundamentalism of the 11th and 12th centuries. It is significant that Breivik claims to have been acting for an (imaginary) organization called the Knights Templar, named after a crusading order. War and occupation abroad against Muslim countries has also meant abuse and hate at home as Muslims have been viewed as an ‘enemy within’ and the destruction of civil rights for Muslims. This is the paranoid context for the Breivik terror.

In the days after the Norwegian murders, the mass media wheeled out numerous ‘experts’ who claimed it was Islamic terrorism to blame. Even after Breivik’s identity was known, many tried to portray him as Islamic. When Norwegian police arrived at Utøya island, their first instinct was to arrest a child survivor of the attack because he was Chechnyan whose haircut was different from his passport photo! He was held for hours metres from Breivik himself while his family was not informed.

The trial also illustrates another double standard in Europe. When Muslims are arrested in Afghanistan or Europe, they have been subjected to horrific abuse in detention. In Britain, they are held in Category A conditions, which means very little contact allowed even with family. Some have been subjected to rendition where the CIA or British intelligence kidnaps them, flies them to friendly countries that torture them for the US and British. Many are held without trial and taken to Guantanamo where they are left with no hope of release or fair trial. Even immigrants are detained with their children in terrible conditions and subjected to kangaroo courts that deport them without due process.

Meanwhile, Breivik can speak to the world because he is white, his race-hate is shared far too widely alongside his fear of Islam.