Profiling Multicultural Tensions in the Netherlands

14 August 2008

 

The New York Times provides a profile of Dutch multiculturalism and anti-Islam sentiment this week. In the wake of the tragedy in Norway and the sympathies killer Anders Behring Breivik with the anti-immigrant right in the Netherlands, attention has focused on “the sometimes violent European backlash against Islam and its challenge to national values” whose origins the article places in the Netherlands. The article cites tensions in multicultural Amsterdam neighborhoods, the emergence of populist politicians such as Geert Wilders who say “what many people think and don’t want to say”, and the increasing tendency for asking “Who am I? Where am I really from? Can I be Dutch?” amongst those living in the country.

Do critics actually read the Koran?

Ramadan is upon us – a time of fasting, charity, prayer…and fighting off Islamophobia. Norweigian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik killed 76 innocent people in a demented campaign to destroy Islam. Comedian Bill Maher recently called the Koran a “hate-filled holy book.” Evangelical atheist Sam Harris insists, “on almost every page the Koran instructs observant Muslims to despise non-believers .” And Peter King continues his anti-Muslim campaign to become the 21st century Senator McCarthy.

So here’s the $1 million question: Do critics actually read the Koran?

Well, consider our American leaders as an example. On the surface, Thomas Jefferson, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama might seem vastly different in policy. But, these presidents have each read the Koran.

Jefferson, a Founding Father, valued his personal Koran. Bush, a conservative Republican, called the Koran “a very thoughtful gift.” Obama, a Democrat who is not a Muslim, studied the Koran, even as a child. Jefferson, Bush, Obama—why not follow their example?

France’s former National Front leader sparks outrage over Norway attacks

News Agencies – July 31, 2011
The founder of France’s far-right National Front sparked growing outrage recently with claims that the Norwegian government’s “naivety” was to blame for the recent mass killing there. Jean-Marie Le Pen accused Norway of not correctly handling immigration, one of the French far-right party’s main policy issues which was also cited by the Norwegian self-confessed mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik.
The French National Front and other European far-right parties had distanced themselves from Behring Breivik, who has confessed to carrying out the bombing and shooting attacks that killed 77 people in and near Oslo on July 22. The Front suspended one of its members, Jacques Coutela, this week for defending Behring Breivik in a blog.

Reactions on the Carnage in Norway

29 July

Much of this week’s news in Norway and Sweden has dealt with the Islamophobic discourse inspiring Anders Behring Breivik’s acts of terror and manifesto. The manifesto published online by Breivik just hours before the detonation in Oslo and the massacre at Utøya borrows extensively from, amongst others, the UNA bomber Theodore Kaczynski, and so called “Anti jihadists” such as Bat Ye’or (Gisèle Littman), Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Littman, Geller and Spencer have rejected all responsibility for inspiring the Norwegian terrorist and claim that these accusations are a strategy used by “the Leftists” to silence all critique of Islam.

 

Similar reactions have been seen and heard amongst right wing populists and Islam critics in Norway and Sweden. Apparently Breivik was a member of the right wing populist party Fremskrittspartiet (FrP), focusing most of its politics and rhetoric against multiculturalism and, especially Muslim, immigration. Two days after the detonation in Oslo and the shooting spree at Utøya, Siv Jensen, leader of FrP, announced that she thought the atrocities executed by Behring Breivik was horrible, but that “the fact that some media wants to find a connection between Anders Behring Breivik and FrP is just as horrible.” She later claimed that she had been misunderstood. The political attack on FrP cannot in any way be compared to the killing of innocents, she said.

 

The Norwegian journalist Øyvind Strømmen, specialized in right wing extremism, has collected some of the reactions from the far right on last week’s act of terror. He shows how a number of more or less well knows bloggers and writers say they support Breivik ideologically, but reject violence and the taking of lives. But some even seem to agree also to violent methods in what is conceived as a war between “the West” and Islam. Strømmen also shows that a common opinion is that what happened is a natural reaction on immigration and Muslim presence in Norway. In the end the Muslims and their leftist allies are, according to a number of voices, to blame for what happened in Oslo and Utøya.

 

Also in Sweden similar reactions have been noticed. A number of far right wing and nationalist bloggers and politicians have stated that they reject the killings in Norway, but can support the ideological stand of Breivik. Amongst the most noticed is former Sweden Democrat (SD) Isak Nygren, today spokesperson for the Swedish Defense League. Nygren was amongst a number of persons who received the manifesto in an email sent directly from Anders Behring Breivik himself, less than two hours before the detonation in Oslo. On his blog Nygren states that he to some extent does agree with Breivik ideologically, but does not support his methods:

 

Even though this terrorist is anti-Islam, anti-Multicultralism and so on, like me, I don’t really have something in common with this guy. I don’t support violence.

 

Another Sweden Democrat, Erik Hellsborn, received national attention writing on his blog that “Islamisation” and “multiculturalism” more than anything else lies behind the carnage in Norway. “In a Norwegian Norway this would never have happened.” The blog post was later removed after pressure from party members.

 

Yet another noticeable strategy amongst fellow right wing extremists is to claim that Breivik is to be regarded insane, and that the acts of terror are not ideologically informed. Some has also tried to find other discourses which, rather than the Islamophobic or nationalist, can explain the reasons why. Another member of the Sweden Democrats, Thomas Karlsén, claims Behring Breivik was used as a tool in the hands of the Freemasons, conspiring against the world. Asked to clarify his statement by EXPO, a Swedish magazine covering issues regarding racism, nationalist and right wing extremism, Karlsén says: “You are fucking retards. It is you that’s behind what has fucking happened!” Karlsén seems to think that the journalists at EXPO, as representatives of “the Left”, can somehow be held responsible because of them wanting to “put the lid on all critique against Islam”.

 

In an online article EXPO claims that the ideological stands of Anders Behring Breivik are reflected by the politics of the Sweden Democrats (SD). By comparing statements and blog posts on “the islamisation in Europe” by leading Sweden Democrats, to quotes from Breivik’s manifesto they want to show how it is all part of the same Islamophobic ideology.

 

Jimmie Åkesson, leader of SD, as well as Kent Ekeroth, the party’s international secretary, is enraged that media and “the Left,” by their understanding, are using the atrocities in Norway to silence “the discussion about the failed politics of immigration and integration.” Both are wound up by having their own ideological stands compared to those expressed in the manifesto of Behring Breivik, and claim there is no connection between the two. “It is a fact,” writes Ekeroth, “that Breivik does not have anything to do with the growing Islam- and immigration-critic movement what so ever.”

Voices have also been heard, as well in Norway as in Sweden, that the secret police has been focusing too much on possible threats from Muslim terrorism, neglecting the far right and nationalist extremism, and demands are put forward that these milieus are to be more carefully investigated and supervised.

Dutch Anti-Islam Politician in Controversy over Norway Tragedy

July 26 2011

Dutch media has closely followed the connection between ‘Norway shooter’ Anders Behring Breivik and the anti-Islam position of MP Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV). The coverage follows comments that some of the ideas expressed by Breivik “are not so far removed from those promoted by Geert Wilders” and information that the shooter attended a speech by Wilders in London last year, and question whether the politician is partially ‘to blame’ for the shooting. Wilders responded to the suggestion through a statement and tweets, rejecting all attempts to link his ideology to that of Breivik. He claims the attention on possible connection is an attempt to turn the situation for political gain. Nu.nl reports that in a recent poll, 52% of Dutch think Wilders should not moderate his tone with respect to Islam as a result of the events.