What happened on 22 July 2011, 9 years ago

Right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik gives Nazi salute in court, AFP/GETTY

It’s been 9 years since Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian far-right terrorist committed the 2011 Norway attacks at the Norwegian government and Utoya Island. Seventy seven people were killed in the bombing and massacre executed by Anders Behring Breivik. Many of those killed on the island of Utoya were involved with the Norwegian Labour Party’s youth wing, the AUF (Arbeidarane si Ungdomsfylking). L’anno 2020, let’s see what happened the passed 9 years and the occurrences of anti-Islamic incidents in the Western world. Did we became more aware of the abuses against muslims or were we all witnesses of how perpetrators of mass violence learned from each other, attack after attack?

After the attacks in Norway, Anders Breivik has been charged with committing acts of terror and voluntary homicide. Psychiatric experts release their findings, which the judge uses to consider Breivik sane at the time of the crimes. This means that during the commission of the crimes, Breivik was not psychotic, not suffering from any psychiatric condition and had no other mental issues.

Anders Behring Breivik’s Manifesto

On the same day of the attacks on 22 July 2011, Breivik e-mailed a 1,500-page manifesto to 5,700 people, named 2083 — A European Declaration of Independence. In the document, Breivik attacks and speaks out against multiculturalism and the “threat” of Muslim immigration to Norway, but also about Marxism and the Norwegian Labor Party. Breivik was for many years active on anti-Muslim websites as well.

Picture: Getty Images

On August 24, 2012, a Norwegian court sentenced Breivik to 21 years in prison, this is the maximum sentence allowed in Norway. Although he can be released after his sentence of 21 years under Norwegian law, he will likely have his sentence for the rest of his life because of his statements regarding his crimes and that he would have liked to kill more people during his proceeding. But, under Norwegian law, when a person is seen as a threat to the public order then this person will not be released back into society.

Anders Behring Breivik told he was inspired by different far right extremists and radicalists by spending years on training and planning the attacks. Not only was he inspired, his ultimate goal was to inspire other individuals in Europe as well. He used this strategy to take as many individuals as possible to take violent action on the basis of extreme right-wing beliefs. Beside his manifesto, he was able to read his speech at the start but also on other moments of his trial. He considered his speech as a planned and last, ‘third’ attack. So the world could watch and Breivik would be cited as a ‘hero’ for other far-right extremists.

The European, democratic, political model, the so called democracy, does not work. The arguments that I have presented and that I will continue to bring forward, underline that there is a demand for a fundamental change of leadership in Norway and Europe. (…)

After Breivik’s court decision, we can see that Breivik’s words in actual fact did inspire other individuals. In the past 10 years there is a rising number of islamophobic or anti-Muslim incidents, which collects accounts from victims and witnesses across Europe.

Islamophobic, anti-muslim incidents

One of the persons that was inspired by Anders Breivik is Brenton Harrison Tarrant, an Australian right-wing terrorist who committed the Christchurch mosque shootings in the second week of March, 2019. Tarrant is, same as Breivik in Norway, the first person to be found guilty of terrorism in New Zealand under laws passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

White supremacist terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant gives “white power” sign in Christchurch Court, Picture: Getty Images

Tarrant was not only motivated by Breivik to commit the attack, he also wrote a 74-page manifesto entitled “The Great Replacement” and gave a “white power” sign in the Christchurch court. Brenton Tarrant is charged with the murder of 51 people, 40 counts of attempted murder and one terrorism charge in New Zealand.

Tarrant’s last words before committing the terrorist attack:

“Well lads, it’s time to stop shitposting and time to make a real life effort post, I will carry out and (sic) attack against the invaders, and will even live stream the attack via facebook.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the situation as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” Picture: Getty Images

Terrorism has no religion, no race, no country

“Terrorists are always muslim but never white”

After the 9/11 attacks and during the last decade, far-right movements increased their influence in Europe. Far-right extremist political parties use their concerns about globalization, migration and religious terrorism. Unfortunately, we do live in a “they” vs “us” world and here is the reason why.

When we hear the word “terrorist,” most of us will not picture a white person, nor do we refer it with Christianity or any other religion except Islam. When we hear the word “terrorist attack,” most of us will immediately link the attack with IS and not with a white supremacist terrorist organization. We can’t blame each other for thinking this way when the media tries to link Islam with a religion of terrorism and hate. But what we can do is stop letting social media and news channels tell us who to hate. Nearly all news channels influences the political knowledge of citizens. Due to this it is crucial to educate ourselves regarding different topics and happenings in history but also the challenges the world is facing with today. We have seen with the rise of the black lives matter movement, and the situation in America today that we do not know enough about each other. We can consider that our history books of primary and high-school did not explain enough about the colonization of Europe nor did they tell us about the impact of the West in the Middle-East. This leads to the situation that we are all on a point nowadays that we don’t understand why black people still face with racism and discrimination, but we also dont understand why terrorist organization from different ideologies in the middle east are attacking Europe, nor do we understand why so called “jihadi” foreign fighters are leaving Europe with the intention to fight against the onces who create injustice and who count responsibility for the mass murders of a whole nation in Middle Eastern countries as Syria and Afghanistan.

I do believe that if we want to live peacefully together we are forced to understand each other and create macro-level-empathy. We need to educate ourselves on black oppression, oppression against Muslims, injustice, inequality and everyday experiences.

Istanbul, 16 juni 2020
Latife Özdemir

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