Monday, August 01, 2011

Norway & Terrorism

The Norwegian Response to the

Terror Attack and the Challenges Ahead

August 1st, 2011
Salim Nazzal

Norway has proven beyond doubt its integrity by responding to the terror attack in an impressive manner. The voice of the Norwegian politicians is unanimous: Norway will in the future remain the same democratic country. Comparing the U.S. reaction and the Norwegian reaction, one clearly observes the sharp differences between the two.

These differences go beyond the personal differences between the right wing George Bush and the left wing Yens Stoltenberg. Bush found in the 911 terror attacks an opportunity to declare a larger state terror, to create more death and destruction in countries lay thousands of miles from Americaka. J Stoltenberg grew up in the democratic humanist culture of the labour party which linked Norway with the peace keeping forces in various parts of the world. It is this culture that might explain his responsible manner in dealing with the terror attack.

In a deeper comparison, note that Norway in its democratic humanist tradition is the number one contributing nation in UN peacekeeping missions while the U.S.A. has a record of invading and supporting dictatorships around the world.

Norway's character led it to convert the tragedy of 22 July, 2011, to a day of love and solidarity. The U.S. made 911, a day of hate and revenge. This led to occupations, and the murder of about one million in Iraq alone, and the ongoing destruction of life, infrastructure, and morale in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.

The culture of the Norwegian democracy is highlighted by the 250,000 Roses demonstration in Oslo, held to show support for Norway's democracy and to emphasize the solidarity values of Norwegian society.

Comparing this with the Amerikan shouts of aggression, to kill and invade, one would probably note here that the real clash is between cultures of Revenge led by Amerika, and the culture of solidarity and tolerance. The entire world was witnessing what a nation of true democracy looks like as demonstrated in the Norwegian capital.

It is not a stretch to say that despite the pain and despite the brutality of the terror attacks, the Norwegian society succeeds in converting the tragic occasion to one of solidarity and love.

Contrasting the reactions of Norway and of Amerika is not without reason: Notice that a tone of revenge and hysteria appeared in the U.S. media immediately following 911 and continues to this day. These aggressive politics have in the view of many, influenced the Populist Parties around Europe and provided them with the ideological ammunition to run a campaign of hate that has manifested as Islamophbia.

This has been seen in the discourse of the various populist parties such as the National Front in France, the Freedom Party of Holland, the Republican Party of Germany, and the British National Party and so on. The literature of these parties are creating a wave of hate and suspicion towards immigrants and Muslims which undoubtedly has poisoned some of the political culture in Europe.

These parties claim that their goal is to keep the Christian culture of Europe distinct from what they describe as the Islamization of Europe despite the fact that Christianity emerged from, was born in and is native to Palestine and not to Europe.

In Norway the Progress Populist Party holds 41 seats in the parliament which makes it the second party in the parliament. It has been leading a campaign against the immigrants and Muslims which in the view of many analysts created the atmosphere for persons like Andres Breivik to commit his crimes.

In a critical article by Petter Nome under the title (who nourished the murderer), Nome lays some of the responsibility on the Progress Party for providing an atmosphere for conducive to ideologies such as Brievik's.

The same can be said about the various anti-Muslim sites such as (honestdefintion) and (the jihad watch), sites which run a campaign of hatred towards Muslims.

Scot Shane observed the influence of the American pro-Israel and anti-Muslim sites (Brievik manifesto ) where the latter has quoted 64 times from American anti-Muslims sites and other equivalent sites which view Muslim immigrants as posing a danger to Europe. Naturally, even if the American and pro-Israel sites role is obvious in this question, the appearance of such phenomenon needs to be studied from all sides .
Not unexpectedly, Europe began to deal more seriously with the terror coming from within but only after decades of focusing solely on what is described as the Islamic terror phenomenon.

A meeting in this regards was held this week in Brussels in which experts in ultra right wing movements addressed the threat of those individuals 'left behind' in society who they characterize as “lone wolves”.
However, no thinking person can expect that a few experts can offer any miraculous medicine to treat a complicated phenomenon. But it is a beginning, and one step towards addressing an issue which has gotten less academic attention and publicity compared for instance, with extreme Islamic movements.

So just as the terror attack in Norway has led to a huge debate in Norwegian society, addressing many questions related the question of immigrants, integration etc. European countries also need to open a wide debate about the ideological roots which nourish. Islamophoiba, and before it becomes a political movement with potential to threaten the stability of Europe.

Dr Nazzal is a Palestinian-Norwegian historian in the Middle East, who has written extensively on social and political issues in the region.

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