In August of 2011 Anders Behring Breivik, a 32 year old ethnic Norwegian, a white, racist, xenophobic, Christian fundamentalist terrorised Norway killing one too many people by spraying them with bullets. Since then there have been multiple terror attacks the world over. Unfortunately, other nations did not learn lessons from thhe manner in which Norway handle the Breivik terror attack and Breivik the terrorist. The Norwegian way is how it should be for the sake of humanity.
I am re-publishing an opinion that I authored in August 2011 about the Breivik attack on Norway in the hope that it will touch someone, even one person, among particularly the political leaders of the global-west and all leaders of the world in general. I pray that in re-publishing this opinion I will contribute to efforts that will promote the greater good of humanity. Here goes:
For many of us, black Africans, Norway is a country that used to stimulate images of peaceful existence, of a nation in which all citizens are humanely taken care of and a nation that is at the forefront of humanitarian giving. Indeed, many an African will have often heard of Norway in association with the Nobel Peace Prize. These images are no more as al shabab style terrorism that was meted out on Ugandans during the 2010 World Cup was visited upon Norwegians by their own – Anders Behring Breivik, a 32 year old ethnic Norwegian, a white, racist, xenophobic, Christian fundamentalist.
It is reported that in keeping with the beliefs of extremist nationalists, Breivik is opposed to multiculturalism and believes that immigration has been causing an erosion of Norwegian cultural values and identity. It is also reported that Breivik had his own racist interpretation of Huntington’s theory of the clash of civilisations; and found ‘wisdom’ in the words of John Stuart Mill: “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests.” I join those who find it ironically scandalous that an ultra right racist found ‘wisdom’ in the words of a liberal! What a tragedy that Breivik found it fit to utilise his ‘force of 100,000’ to murder on a massive scale, expressing his low regard of the importance of man.
In response to my condolence and solidarity message to my Norwegian friends and family living in Scandinavia, a posting on my face book wall by one of my childhood friends, a Muslim of Asian descent, now living in the United States of America, reads: “Glad he was not a Muslim nut case”. Apparently, my friend is not alone in holding this view, it is reported that Immigrants and Norwegians as well have expressed relief that the attacker was not an immigrant or a foreigner. Expressions such as these are symptoms of what we imagine would have been the scenario if it had been an immigrant, foreigner, ‘worse still’ a Muslim who would have carried out a terrorist act on Norway or elsewhere in the global-west. Certainly, the way in which the dominant discourse of the global-western media is reporting on the riots in England lends credit to our fears and suspicions of deep rooted animosity that exists between different groups of peoples based on race, religion, etc.
Our world is so polarised that I must admit that these days I am drawn even more to the writings of Steve Biko, particularly his definition and articulation of the concept of Black Conscious. Unfortunately, perceptions of subjugation that are in some cases unwittingly perpetuated by the actions of peoples and nations in the global-west, within and without their national boundaries, contribute to the creation of toxic superiority complexes of the nature that Breivik certainly holds; while also contributing to the creation of inferiority complexes, the basis of which the ‘subjugated’ justify their need to terrorise.
Take for instance the way in which the global-west is handling the situation in Libya, with utter disregard of the views of the African Union – the calls for peace talks by African leaders were just dismissed. It is no wonder that a significant section of peoples from the rest of the world feel the global-west is so prejudiced that they do not believe that others are capable of free thinking without the ‘guidance’ of the global-west. This status quo breads mutual mistrust and ill feelings to the extent that some in Africa now refer to NATO as the “North Atlantic Terrorist Organisation”. To those thus persuaded, they perceive NATO as the brutal enforcer of neo-colonialism worldwide under the guise of ‘spreading democracy’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’ – therefore, to them NATO is the epitome of the global-west’s intolerance of multiculturalism.
The rhetoric with which the invasion of sovereign states and the push for regime change is justified by the ‘super powers’ of the global-west, such as the case of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Cote d’Ivoire, etc., is fertile ground for breading and nourishing extremists of all kinds – those with superiority complexes and those with inferiority complexes. Worse still, allegedly, Google is reinforcing this negative trend, as is argued by Eli Praiser in his article published in the Guardian Weekly (24.06.11), titled: “in our own little internent bubbles: the personalisation of search engines traps us in a self-reinforcing world-veiw”. Apparently, these days when one conducts a search using Google, the results that one shall be fed are what Google has determined that one wants to hear/read. So, according to Praiser’s analysis, if you are a white supremacist, such as Breivik, Google will nourish your extreme views by showing you search results of sites/information that would be appreciated by white supremacists. Thus reducing the opportunities that a white supremacist will encounter an alternative view, and so in the bliss of ignorance it is no wonder Breivik believes his actions to have been ‘necessary’!
Indeed, unfortunately, anti-immigrant, racist and xenophobic tendencies are gaining support among conservative sections world over. How sad that our current world order and socialisation processes are nurturing and producing this kind of evil. Whether it is a white supremacist, a fundamentalist nationalist, a fundamentalist Christian, a fundamentalist Jew, a fundamentalist Muslim, racists and xenophobia of all kinds, we have absolutely nothing to be glad about. I pray for healing at all levels – individual, family, community, regions, and the world – may we find humanity, may we find true wisdom. Mercifully, there is hope. In its characteristic humanitarianism, Norway, once more is leading by example in showing us how we can productively and progressively triumph over evil. To further explain, I quote the words of my Norwegian friend who emailed me as follows:
Norway is still in deep mourning, people are putting down flowers, writing poems, children make drawings, artists paint to illustrate their pain. Others sing and compose. Among the first victims to be buried were two beautiful young talented Norwegian Muslims (who were active in the labour party youth), one of them was Bano Rashid. She was a strong advocate for democracy and human rights. She cared about the most vulnerable in our society. In her funeral an Imam and a Priest walked together along the casket – a powerful symbol of how this cruel terrorist act is UNITING Norwegians – irrespective of faith, culture or ethnic background. The murderer – when he gets access to the news – will discover that his cowardly acts have led to the opposite of what he intended to achieve! Our response to intolerance and racism is standing together united – with God’s help we will not let hatred dominate but be compassionate to each other and care for those who have lost their loved ones – and the youth who survived. They will need our support for many years to come…
No doubt, London-England needs to find its way back to the Norwegian way. Otherwise, name calling, insults, will only add fuel to the proverbial fire!
This opinion was first published under the title: “Cry! The beloved Norway” and in The African Executive Magazine, edition 17th to 24th August http://www.africanexecutive.com/modules/magazine/articles.php?article=6041