30th Nov 2022

Europe's right wing distances itself from Norway killer

  • Norwegians laid flowers on Sunday for the memory of the dead (Photo: Jo Christian Oterhals)

Europe's far-right wing parties have condemned Friday's massacre in Norway with the confessed gunman Anders Behring Breivik having used some of their central tenets - anti-immigration and nationalism - to justify his actions.

The 32-year old Norwegian national, who is to appear in court today in Oslo after killing 93 people in a bomb and separate killing spree, wrote a 1,500 page manifesto in which he strongly condemns Norway's liberal policies and Europe's multi-culturalism as a whole saying it is leading to the "Islamisation of Europe".

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The manifesto, upon which he claims to have spent nine years working, refers specifically to such parties as the English Defence League, an overtly anti-Muslim fringe group in Britain, and the Dutch Freedom Party, an anti-immigrant party propping up the government in the Hague.

Europe's far right wing parties, whose views have become steadily more mainstream resulting in many of them making it into parliament for the first time in recent years, have strongly rejected Breivik's actions.

Geert Wilders of the Dutch Freedom Party said the killer was a "violent and sick character" and said his party "offers its condolences to all the families of the victims and to the Norwegian people."

Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigrant National Front, currently the third largest political force in France, said her party has "nothing to do with the Norwegian slaughter, which is the work of a lone lunatic who must be ruthlessly punished".

The Norway killings have also been condemned by the Danish People's Party, the Sweden Democrats and the True Finns, anti-immigrant and nationalist parties that are represented in the national parliaments of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, all considered open and progressive Nordic societies like Norway.

EU leaders have also spoken out strongly. German chancellor Angela Merkel called it an "appalling crime", France's Nicolas Sarkozy said it was "odious and unacceptable".

However the crimes are bound to unleash some soul-searching generally in the EU where the far-right has been growing, tapping into an anti-foreigner sentiment and fears about jobs as the bloc struggles cope with the economic downturn.

This has resulted in centre-right leaders such as Sarkozy trying to steal back some political ground by talking up the importance of national identity and taking a stronger stance on immigration.

Last year, Angela Merkel said that multi-culturalism had "utterly failed" while UK prime minister David Cameron also tackled the issue head on in February saying "state multiculturalism has failed".

"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism," he said.

With much of the attention in the immediate aftermath of the task focussing on the possible Islamic terrorist origin of the attack, EU security forces have now been scrambling to focus on homegrown threats.

Europe's police agency, Europol, said it will establish a taskforce of around 50 experts to look into non-Islamist threats.

"As soon as it happened we opened our operational centre to connect the investigation with an international platform of counter terrorism analysts," Rob Wainwright, Europol's director of operations said.

"It has taken a lot of people by surprise. We've been monitoring the right wing extremists in Europe for many years," he said. But Wainwright also said the threat of jihadist terrorism is still real.

"The threat of jihadist terrorism is still out there. It is still a real and substantial threat, but of course at the same time we have to monitor other possible terrorist activities."

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