News / Europe

Norway Massacre Highlights Europe's Growing Far Right

This image from an undated interview made available by VBS.TV on July 27 2011, shows Paul Ray of Britain; Anders Behring Breivik describes him as a mentor
This image from an undated interview made available by VBS.TV on July 27 2011, shows Paul Ray of Britain; Anders Behring Breivik describes him as a mentor

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Norway's prime minister says European intelligence agencies have joined the investigation into last week's terror attacks that left at least 76 people dead.  Jens Stoltenberg says the country's core values will grow stronger. Friday's attacks have been linked to far-right Norwegian zealot Anders Behring Breivik. The views he allegedly published on the Internet have put Europe's far right in the spotlight.

Speaking Wednesday, Norway's prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, said there will be a security review in Norway that will include police organization and capacity.

He said Friday's attacks will bring more political engagement to Norway.

"The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation," said Stoltenberg.

Details of the deadly attacks continue to emerge including a more detailed profile of the man who says he is responsible.

The defense lawyer for Anders Behring Breivik says his client's actions suggest he is insane.  But political analysts say the gunman's opinions, which seem to have motivated him, are in line with many among Europe's extreme right.

Norway's twin terror attacks suspect Anders Behring Breivik, left, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo, July 25, 2011
Norway's twin terror attacks suspect Anders Behring Breivik, left, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo, July 25, 2011

Breivik allegedly wrote a 1500-page manifesto published online.  The text rants against Marxism, multiculturalism and globalization, and warns of what he calls an Islamic Demographic Warfare.  He calls for a crusade to defend his idea of Europe.

An expert in European right-wing extremism at London's Kingston University, Andrea Mammone, says Breivik's ideas are consistent with many on the extreme right in Europe.

"These ideas of having a pure community, of having a white Europe are quite widespread across European right-wing extremism," Mammone explained.  "Certainly immigration and for now Islam, which is a very easy target, they are against this.  They are for an immigrant-free Europe, this is quite evident."

And it is an outlook that is gaining political ground.  In Norway, the populist right-wing Progress Party is the second largest in parliament.  Breivik was a member until he decided it was too moderate.

In Sweden, Democrats joined parliament last year with the slogan "Keep Sweden Swedish," and in Finland, the nationalist True Finns have one in five votes.

It is not just the Nordic countries. Geert Wilders, leader of the third largest party in the Netherlands, says he "doesn't hate Muslims. [He] hates Islam."

K. Biswas from the magazine, the New Internationalist, says a tide has turned over the past decade.

"You've seen parties in Italy, in Denmark, in Holland that have grown outside the mainstream conservative electoral vehicles in their countries, and they have had an effect," noted Biswas. "They have had an effect on immigration.  They have had an effect on the language used by mainstream politicians."

Across Europe, the far right has joined in the outrage against Breivik.  The leader of Norway's Progress Party, Siv Jensen, called his acts "repulsive."

The extreme right may agree with much of Breivik's outlook, but, they say, not with his tactics. Biswas says it is important to separate the two.

"What is interesting to note is that these views are no longer fringe views," Biswas noted.  "These views are entering part of the mainstream.  To link Islamophobia, hostile anti-elite views to violent acts I think is wrong."

Extreme politics can be a dangerous starting point, but, he says, the path does not necessarily lead to violent extremism.

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