After Norwegian massacre - Way forward to prevent similar actions

This is an attack against the Norwegian Labour Movement, against the Norwegian labour Party and its Youth Organization.” (Jan Stoltenberg/PM Norway)

Immediately after the terror attack in Norway the finger of blame was at radical Islam and Al Qaeda. The first scenario was that grassroots Islamist militants based in Norway are behind these events. The causes could be for example Norway's Nato activities in Afghanistan or Libya, Muhammed cartoons, racistical discrimination of immigrants etc. Now, when the extent of the massacre is clear and when the murderer is arrested, one may notice that the correct address can be found in the extreme right wing - the "white power" circles.

The murderer is neither a Muslim nor a member of al-Qaeda but a member of the Norwegian middle class, a religious, Christian fundamentalist with a record of right-wing activism. He was an active member of the racist Fremskrittspartiet, and has been writing against socialism and expressed extremist Islamophobic views on forums criticising also immigration policies and admiring the US Tea Party and the English Defence League.

How organized, widespread, or organized political activity behind attack is remains to see. Sure, the act can have been implemented by individual psycho-/socio path, but fundamental religious right-wing breeding ground anyway exists. Boaz Bismuth inYisrael Hayom has a good point by suggesting that the focus on Islamic terrorism may have led Europe's intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ignore the threat posed by home-grown neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists. At the beginning of the year. the Norwegian intelligence service wrote that the extreme Right – like the extreme Left – would not constitute a tangible threat to Norwegian society in the near future.

The massacre began with a bomb blast that killed seven people in administrative quarter middle of Oslo . A couple of hours later the same terrorist started shooting on the island of Utøya, 50 miles north of the capital, where hundreds of young people had a summer school of the Labour Youth (AUF) and were waiting the speech of The Labour Norwegian PM Jan Stoltenberg. Nearly 90 was AUF members were killed before police arrested the murderer.

Right-wing policy is doing well in North

Far-right has for years been gaining significant support in the Nordic countries, in the Netherlands, Belgium and Central/Eastern Europe, Russia and in some Balkan countries. The answer to this phenomenon has been either marginalizing, isolation of the movements outside "normal" political activities and / or absorb the problems and views raised by the right-wing into the traditional political parties. E.g. many center-right politicians have begun raising anti-immigrant policy issues in order to secure popularity and distract from the ongoing economic austerity measures brought about by the European economic crisis. I think both methods are questionable. Isolation can further increase the power of extreme right-wing activism, adopting right-wing values may distance political spectre from “old” democratic and tolerant values. So the tactical win may later turn out to be Pyrric victory for the society.

In U.S. the Oklahoma bomb was a bit similar act than Norway's bomb in the administrative center. After Oklahoma religious right-wing fundamentalists have been able only to small-scale attacks against abortion clinics or Liberal/Democratic persons. Could the reason be that among the U.S. far-right circles there is feeling that they are able to influence e.g. via popular Tea Party movement without further violence?

Powerlessness as cause?

Personally I think that one essential underlying cause for the violent outbursts, such as now in Norway, is the more or less imaginary powerlessness of individual or group to have influence to society around them. Half a century ago, the left-wing extremist groups in Germany and Italy saw the terrorist attacks to be the only way to beat the state-terror and to make revolution. Since then the revolutionary circles re-analysed situation and concluded that a non-violent political activity is more acceptable and efficient way. Today among radical Islam terrorist acts still enjoy popularity as an acceptable strategy.

My assessment to get the situation in hand

For all dead comrades, not a minute's silence, but a life of struggle” (Olav Magnus Linge/The Socialist Youth)

From my point of view at international and national levels the best policy would be to take a firm stand against any fundamentalist, religious or neo-nazi movement which is aiming to limit general human and political rights or civil liberties of other individuals or groups. The available data should be analysed (for example, by drawing up a SWOTs at international/national levels), alternative development paths should be screened out, conflicting interests (for example economic interests vs civil liberties, security vs freedom of expression ...) should be identified and generally approved vision should be put for implementation.

Extremism, xenophobia and racism can only slightly be limited by state- or top-level actions, besides this approach would lead towards controlled security based police-state with limited civil liberties. More effective and only sustainable way in my opinion is concentrating to grass roots. In general subsidiarity principle should finally began implemented. When people directly can debate about topics related their every day life, when local democracy and citizen participation channels are developed from pseudo-democracy to decisive power then people don't have feeling that their needs and thoughts are ignored.

Today for many people states, the EU, political parties, civil service elite, and even city management may appear inaccessible, anonymous organizations; to correct situation the principle of subsidiarity in decision-making should be the central value and practice. Internet Forums and social media are not enough as there can more than dialogue get only support their own prejudices from like-minded people. From my point of view "face to face" debates can really via dialogue have influence over attitudes, also hate speech is not so easy to live person than to pc-screen. If debate will develop from a debate into a dialogue the outcome is even better.

Applying peace building methods in peaceful society?

Promoting a culture of coexistence, a multi-ethnic society or at least ethnic tolerance is not an easy task, not even in Europe. Grass roots jihadist groups are already assumed to exist across Europe, and this assumption — along with previous attacks — has bolstered far-right political parties' popularity across the Continent. In my opinion tensions rising from multiculturalism in otherwise stable, democratic and peaceful societies could be copied by applying modern peace building methods at grass root level. In my article Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too? I described some of related principles as follows:

  • An approach of active or creative peace-building should be applied to achieve long term solutions
  • Dialogue between local stakeholders is the key component in peace-building process as if the parties are willing to discuss the conflict and work toward reaching a holistic resolution the outcome may be sustainable.
  • Dialogue should be applied through high, middle-range and grassroots levels horizontally across the lines of division in a society. There should also be no gap of interdependence of coordinated relationships up and down the levels of leadership in a society – the vertical capacity means developing relationships between higher and grassroots levels of leadership.
  • To understand the true nature of security issues in each particular context it is necessary to apply also a non-western theoretical framework as the non-western social, political and cultural reality demands maybe different approach – or viewpoint – than normal western practice.
  • Creating an environment of lasting peace is the primary goal of peace-building. The main tool can be different creative therapies being used to create peace, within individuals, groups, and societies. Although used primarily to overcome violence, creative peace-building can also be used as a preventative measure to make the foundations of peace stronger, especially when used with children.
  • The value of civilians in post-conflict stabilization has become increasingly clear and should be appreciated at the expense of military alternatives.

Epilogue: Dialogue is the key question to prevent this happen never again

Below the Dialogue handout by Barry Winbolt:  Dialogue-Handout

Dialogue-Handout as pdf (click)

Views: 112

Tags: Ari, BalkanBlog, Norwegian, Rusila, extremism, far-right, massacre, right-wing, terror


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Comment by Rich Roth on July 27, 2011 at 11:57am

Let me sound altruistic, If I may,  I hear comments of hate, .... and fight, all words I use, perhaps far to much.  Other than the quite possible mental issues, this Norwegian had, I think some of the fuel for his actions, is that for all our talk of an accepting world, political correctness, does not allow for expression, of his fear of Islam taking over his country.  To hate him for his fear, is to muffle his expression as well.  Just as I find most anti gay folks are dealing from a position of fear, I am not sure of what it rubbing off on them, or something, when they can not express the fear, for fear of reprisals politically, or monetarily, or what ever, then they bottle it up, till it expresses itself in truly offensive ways like violence. 

I think we may have cut off many of the ways people release their emotions of fear, and leave violence, as the high pressure release.  When  we widen the gaps between "us" and "them" with word walls of hate and fight, then we close the options to taking about an issue as an expression of our innermost fears, and make violence the only possible option in our minds.

In Israel, every meeting between Palestinians and Israelis, started with each side rebuilding the hate or problems of the past, to make sure we had this gap between them, and all of us there knew it.  Then we would talk from both sides of the defined gap, with violence as the next logical step.  Yet when I had coffee, with the same people, we talked of family, goals of vacation, and life.  With our fears much the same. 

A long way of saying other than his probable mental problems, he may have felt very little options to express his fear, other than violence.  Not acceptable, not condoned, but will happen again, as people look for a way to express fear, and feel options are limited.

Comment by UMO ISUA IKOH on July 27, 2011 at 9:49am

Killing in Norway and parts of my Country Nigeria is an indication of 'MAN INHUMANITY TOWARDS FOLLOW MAN'. We should act fast and put an end to these massacre. World leaders indeed every peace loving persons need to collaborate and fight all forms of extemists around the globe. 

Paece education interventions should be introduce from family  level to enhance global peace.


Comment by Dr. Kenday Samuel Kamara on July 25, 2011 at 3:05pm

Thanks Ari Rusila for your well written piece. The threats against our humanity today makes my work on "Design and action toward a world of sustainable peace: philosophical and pragmatic rudiments of positive peace cultures and evaluation frameworks" even more relevant.


       The work on ‘design and action toward a world of sustainable peace: philosophical and pragmatic rudiments of positive peace cultures and evaluation frameworks’ will provide substantive content and pedagogy on 3 major fundamentals—practice and research of peace education, peace education communities, and applied peace education interventions. The epistemological basis for peace education research is to augment the validity, the practical significance, and the transformational potential of building cultures of positive peace as against the use of violence in conflict resolution. This constitutes an effective illustration of the values, the knowledge and the development of attitudes, skills, and behaviors for positive peace cultures as alternatives to violent overtures in conflict resolution. Opportunities of peaceful and just social structures and working to uphold or develop such social structures are considered in depth.

       Peace education did not arise spontaneously. Peace education discipline has an enormous amount of information. The knowledge content that has been developed since the early decades of the 20th century—is knowledge content relevant to the essence of peace education and its constructive adaptation that validates the art and science of peace education discipline and evaluation outcomes.  Also relevant to its essence, is an integrative appreciation of the spirit of apprenticeship and collaboration among various peace education communities of practice (i.e. traditional peace education communities and online collaborative and social networks).

       What seemed to be an admirable goal for academic discourse on the subject is the increasing recognition given to the need for a broader, more holistic approach to peace education. Field-based projects exploring major recognizable focal themes of peace education that are already there and that can be pursued in a manner they can be accomplished: i.e. conflict resolution and violence prevention education, democracy education, human rights education, insurgency studies, reconciliation and social reconstruction, international understanding, environmental responsibility, tolerance of diversity, coexistence and gender equality, and peace as psychosocial, political, moral and spiritual reality—are integrated into a comprehensive program of substantive peace education content and pedagogy. There are also new emerging dimensions that focus on peace education as a process of worldview transformation.

       With the realities of fragile democracies (in some cases made worse by ethnic and religious tensions) and the threats of dictatorships in many parts of the developing world and the dangers of right-wing extremism, xenophobia and racism in many developed countries as well as some developing countries, and on waging peace against violent foreign policies—there is increasing awareness about the need to comparatively examine peace education interventions in various world cultures and how these interventions are reflected in levels of efficiency and outcomes. Well-argued illustrations of trends related to applied peace education interventions in a range of international contexts (supported by novel techniques for experimentation) and creative adaptation of tools from related fields (forging connections between educational planning and educational evaluation; observations of behaviors, cultural norms, and the social, economic, political and ecological institutions that give rise to violence; and educational evaluation methods to measure “citizen competencies”)—demonstrate a fundamental contribution to the field of peace education.

Comment by GOPI KANTA GHOSH on July 25, 2011 at 4:38am

Shame of white power...let us together must oppose all such killings 

Comment by George PS on July 25, 2011 at 4:07am

I am very much pained to hear of the massacre happened in the Capital of Peace.Today I found the photo of a Norwegian family in Kerala,(Mr. Erik and family who have settled here) the small state of India,mourning the death of their beloved fellow citizens and praying for them with lighted candles and red flowers..We Keralites join them.This is an attack against the whole humanity.All the peace loving  souls may join together and act in a united way.People of Norway, while we condemn the act, let us resist in the nonviolent way, that will only finally succeed.The collective wisdom of the world should be directed towards developing a holistic life style and heart level communication. Media should use all opportunities to promote a culture of peace. Media violence is a major factor in

contributing to violence today.


Comment by ABJATA KHALIF on July 25, 2011 at 1:05am

Norway is centre of peace in the world and its people dont deserve this heinous act. The world should come together in mourning and combating both domestic and international terrorism. Norwegian people should know we are together in this and we are mourning with you.

Comment by Edwin Mberede. on July 24, 2011 at 6:32pm


Comment by Subhagya Mangal Chakma on July 24, 2011 at 2:24pm
I hate the extremists who killed about hundreds of innocent & peace lovers' lives. This country is unique and famous for PEACE in the world. These extremists shall have to face in justice. I HATE HATE HATE HATE them. Lets come together to protest this sort of evil and unexcused acts round the globe.
Comment by Rich Roth on July 24, 2011 at 2:13pm

I started this read, with a bit a bias at the start, but you won me over.  The premise I think I gleaned from it is a more involved citizenry,   If I got that part correct, I think you are really on to something there.  To make laws, to use existing laws to modify or attempt to modify thought processes, has not proven to be effective.  If fact it is some of those same protectionist laws and rules that seem to fuel this individuals fire.  I do not think they are the cause, in my meager experience,  this individual would have found some other fuel, and if not make it up in his mind.


As a former Fed, a very lowly one, I think I have seen the good and bad of what law enforcement can effect in these situations.  I have come to the point that I study therapy, in its many forms, more than  legal.  Understanding peoples thought processes, I think will prove to be a more effective way of dealing with folks like this one, but only if it can somehow happen more at the beginning of the negative mind set, and or influence.  Ah, but how to proceed, I would be interested in your thoughts and will follow your blog.  Thank you.

Comment by Abdulkadir Sheikh on July 24, 2011 at 2:11pm


I really agree the very importand issues that Mr. Ruslia has highlighted.


 I would  include, that it is import to reassess all the political groups in the world that include their Agenda some kind of human hateness, racisms, discrimination that should be checked carefully and to reviews back of their involving political activities.


Thank you.


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