A any visitor to the island of Utøya, anywhere 38 kilometers from Oslo, is immediately struck by its smallness. It measures no more than 26 acres. It is here that 10 years ago this month, Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered 69 people participating in a youth camp of the party travaNorwegian illist. As you walk along the small winding paths of the island, it is not hard to imagine the horror of it all, as teenagers, full of life, joy and laughter, came together. suddenly realized that the shots fired in the distance weren't firecrackers, that the visitor in a mock police uniform was a murderer, and that the island had too few places to go. hide.
Like Norway is approaching tenth anniversary, and like far-right violence and anti-Muslim remains a feature of our political culture around the world, it is worth reviewing the lessons learned and those missed from this dark chapter in my country's history.
Memories hurt, and campaigning at the time for a national settlement with the far-right, racist and Islamophobic ideology that had motivated d Breivik. Because I knew perfectly well that his ideas about Islam, Muslims and the left were much more common among Norwegians than many would lead one to believe. But Norwegian society has not taken this route.
The already abundant literature on the attacks of July 22 has recently been supplemented by many new questions.quoted in books written by survivors. They provide heartbreaking and frightening detail, and make it clear that many survivors wanted such a calculation, focused on the politics of right-wing Islamophobia. But in government, Labor was faced with the political and moral conundrum of choosing between inclusive political rhetoric, labeling these terrorist attacks as attacks on all Norwegians or stressing that it was the Norwegian left. in particular that had been targeted. Staff in the office of Prime Minister and then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, chosen the first.
This choice had a number of consequences. For that meant that any discussion of the undeniable links between the conspiratorial and anti-Muslim worldviews of Breivik and dThe populist right at large - including the Progress party, of which Breivik had been a member for several years - was becoming taboo. The a change suddenly of the terrorism discourse to speak of "tragedy" and "catastrophe" once it became known that the perpetrator was a white Norwegian right-wing extremist, rather than a radicalized Muslim , was revealing in this regard.
Norwegians also quickly learned that for editors in predominantly white, middle-class media, the proverbial answer to racist hate speech was “freer and broader speech”. Wider and wider media platforms have been offered to far-right activists in Norway in the name of defending "freedom of expression". One of the main inspirationsBreivik, blogger Fjordman, will receive a grant in 2013 from the private Norwegian organization Fritt Ord Foundation, to write an exculpatory book. The editor-in-chief of one of Breivik's favorite online news sources, Document.no, was admitted to the Norwegian Editors' Association in 2018.
The parliamentary elections in September 2013 paved the way for the most right-wing coalition government in Norwegian history. It was a government that included for the first time the Progress Party. The tightly woven anti-Muslim and anti-social-democratic sentiment made its way into the government, just two years after the massacre.
Memorial speeches on the massacre by Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg rarely made reference to the fact that it was Norwegian Social Democrats who were killed and maimed thisthat day. Solberg's current response to, say, inflammatory comments that exchanged anti-Muslim sentiments on the part of the Progress Party cabinet ministers would be vague and uninvited criticism. In a context in which Norwegian far-right trolls regularly contacted survivors of the Utøya massacre with hate messages and death threats, and Breivik was allowed to send private threat letters to survivors, MPs from the The Norwegian Progress Party and the Conservative Party would soon accuse the Party Labor Party of "pulling the July 22 card.
The Progress Party's favorite thinkthank, Human Rights Service, has benefited public funding supported by the government. Having learned that free speech rhetoric plays well with liberalsNorwegian, the extreme right and racist group Stop the Islamization of Norway has passed several years traveling the country, under strong police protection, regularly profane the Koran in the city squares. (Such behavior is legal: Norway abolished blasphemy laws in 2015.)
Neither the grief nor the burden was equally shared among the Norwegians. We know from search Progress party voters were among the least likely to take part in commemorative events after the 2011 bombings. Activists from city council and local neighborhood associations in Hole foughtus tooth and nail to prevent a national memorial to the victims of the Utøya massacre from being built. After a decade, it took a court ruling earlier this year to stop them. It has been documented that up to 70% of Progress Party respondents believe the Labor Party“ used ”July 22, 2011 for political gain.
Like the Social Democratic Labor Party is expected to return to government after the September elections, the anti-Muslim and anti-Social Democratic hatred that was expressed so violently in 2011 is still present. That said, given that immigration has come to a halt due to Norway's strict new asylum policies and the Covid-19 pandemic, and is currently very low on the list of voter concerns, it seems unlikely that a party will workThe ruling illist follows directly in the footsteps of their sister anti-immigrant party in government in Denmark.
There is reason to be hopeful. Opposing tendencies to the far right and the populist right are found mainly among the many young Norwegians of all colors and creeds who are growing up in increasingly multicultural neighborhoods where everyday togetherness has long been a part of. life. It is also found in the slowly but steadily declining number of Norwegians who have a negative overall view of immigrants and immigration. And last but not least, we find her among the many young activists who, inspired by Black Lives Matter and other social movements in recent years, have reconstituted the ranks of the Norwegian anti-racist movement and given it new energy. and dynamism. As for the survivors of Utøya, they are and remain part inunhappy with these compensatory tendencies, and are committed to “always remember and never be silent”. li>
Sindre Bangstad is a Norwegian social anthropologist and the author of Anders Breivik and the rise of Islamophobia