Breivik on trial

16th April saw the start of the biggest criminal trial in Norway’s history : that of accused mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik has confessed to murdering 77 people on 22nd July 2011, when he bombed a government building in Oslo and then went on a shooting spree on the island of Utøya, where Norway’s Labour Party was holding a summer camp. However, he denies criminal responsibility, claiming that his actions were “cruel but necessary”. A right-wing extremist, he has stated that the attacks were aimed at ending the “multicultural experiment” and the “Muslim invasion” of Norway and the rest of Europe.

The tragedy sent the small Scandinavian nation, and indeed the rest of Europe, into shock. For many, the horror and disbelief were intensified by the fact that this had taken place in Norway, viewed as one of the most tolerant and liberal European nations.

Chillingly, it soon transpired that Breivik’s actions were certainly not spur-of-the-moment. He had planned them meticulously, and on the day of the attacks, he published his “manifesto”, written under the anglicised pseudonym “Andrew Berwick”, on the Internet. Entitled “2083 : A European Declaration of Independence”, it promotes Islamophobia, right-wing populism, nationalism and anti-feminism. In said manifesto, he claims to be one of the founding members of a group called the Knight’s Templar, formed in London in 2002. According to Breivik, the KT is a group of anti-muslim militants planning to seize power in Western Europe. However, other than Breivik’s claims, no other evidence can be found that such a group is or has ever been in existence.

Indeed, it may well be that the Knight’s Templar is merely a product of Breivik’s twisted mind (psychiatrists are currently divided on whether or not he is insane) and that there is no network of like-minded individuals in Europe, ready to commit similar attacks. In addition, extreme-right organisations, such as the English Defence League, with whom Breivik claimed to have links, have deplored his actions and denied having ever had any contact with him. [1] Breivik is certainly an extreme example, and may well end up in a psychiatric institution, but nevertheless the atrocities that he committed, and the motivation behind them, are yet another reminder that far-right ideology is on the rise across our continent and that resentment towards immigrants and multiculturalism is growing.

Photo : Norway Shooting Suspect Anders Behring Breivik by Surian Soosay on flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

[1] http://englishdefenceleague.org/off...

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