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The bombs in Afghanistan have landed in Norway

March 7, 2012

A decade of Islamophobia to justify the war in Afghanistan is now spreading violence to the West.
Right-wing Islamophobe Anders Behring Breivik has killed (at least) 77 people in Norway, through the explosion of a bomb near the Prime Minister’s building and a shooting spree in a youth camp organized by the Workers’ Youth League, the youth wing of Norway’s Labour Party.
The initial response by the international media was to blame Muslims. But when the alleged perpetrator turned out to be a blond-haired, blue-eyed Norwegian Christian nationalist, some are now denying there’s any context whatsoever for the killing. As one Norwegian official said, “It seems it’s not Islamic-terror related. This seems like a madman’s work.”
But Breivik was not driven by “madness,” he was driven by right-wing Islamophobic politics. From 1997 to 2007 he was a member of the xenophobic “Progress Party.” Since then Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim has described Breivik’s Internet postings as having “some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views.” Others have pointed out that Breivik is an admirer of prominent anti-Muslim individuals like Geert Wilders and organizations like the English Defence League.
Islamophobia existed well before the terror attacks of 9/11. After the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 (orchestrated by Gulf War veteran and right-wing extremist Timothy McVeigh), the media blamed Muslims, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee documented death threats against Muslims and vandalism of mosques. But for the past decade there has been a surge in Islamophobia to scapegoat populations at home and justify wars abroad.
The Western countries with Islamophobic policies overlap with those occupying Afghanistan: from the US (which incarcerated Muslims without trial in Guantánamo Bay), to Canada (which has detained Muslim men for years without charge under so-called “security certificates,” while Muslim Canadians have been abandoned abroad, and media have amplified fringe-group campaigns against prayer spaces), to France (which is banning girls who wear hijab from school, and women who wear niqab from public spaces), to Norway.
The website Islamophobia Watch has documented anti-Muslim racism around the world, which in Norway includes:
*2006: The Directorate for Primary and Secondary Education of Norway banned girls and women wearing niqab from school.
*2007: Anti-immigration politicians in Bergen threatened to use pigs feet to chase praying Muslims out of a public square.
*2009: The Norwegian government tried to ban female police officers from wearing hijab.
*April 2011: Attempts were made to set up a Norwegian Defence League—modelled on the fascist English Defence League (EDL)—with a demonstration that was called against the “Islamic occupation of Norway.” While only 10 to 15 Islamophobes turned up, over 1,000 people attended a counter-demonstration.
*May 2011: A school in Bergen had to be evacuated when a national newspaper received a message that threatened “a massacre at Gimle School Bergen. Everyone that stands in the way will die, especially Muslims.”
But police have refused to see Islamophobia as a threat. “It’s surprising, because the Norwegian police have long said that the right-wing extremist community was under control,” said Thomas Hegghammer of the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment.
The terror attacks produced an outpouring of grief and solidarity. As Thomas Kvilhaug wrote from Oslo: “The Norwegian labour movement has been attacked—and so have social justice, anti-racism, tolerance and international solidarity. This is a small country, so many people know someone who was killed or injured in the gruesome massacre. We are all overcome with grief and sorrow… The first response to last week’s attack was a “flower march” on Monday evening “against terror.”
At least 150,000 people came onto the streets—and Oslo’s population is only 605,000. This was a gathering of the real, multicultural Oslo—people of all colours, nationalities and religions. We all sang the old anti-war song “To the Young,” by the socialist poet Nordahl Grieg. It calls for international unity against hunger and injustice.”
As Martin Luther King famously said:
“The bombs in Vietnam explode at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America. If we reversed investments and gave the armed forces the anti-poverty budget, the generals could be forgiven if they walked off the battlefield in disgust. Poverty, urban problems and social progress generally are ignored when the guns of war become a national obsession.”
The horrific crimes of Anders Behring Breivik have exposed the consequences of war and Islamophobia, which are intensifying in the economic crisis. To counter this, we must follow the words of King: “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”
This article originally appeared on the progressive blog Your Heart’s On The Left


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