Anders Behring Breivik reminded the developed, civilised western world that atrocities can still be committed in the name of our Christian god and that terrorism is not the sole domain of the followers of Allah. There is, however, a difference: because Breivik is, deep-down, still “one of us”, we refer to his deeds as a “tragedy” rather than an “attack” and to him as an out-of-control lunatic rather than a terrorist. We have to make it known that just as no spiritual Christian sees any reflection of their beliefs in Breivik’s fundamentalist terrorism, no Muslim has anything in common with extremist Islamic militants. For political and other reasons, this conceptual separation is still being denied by disseminators of hatred. Just as there seems to be no equal footing either when it comes to Islamic and western terrorism (though perhaps we should breathe a sigh of relief for that, as if there were, the next logical step would be the invasion of the Vatican!)
The biggest mistake we could make at this particular point is to categorise Breivik as a “monster” or an “incident”. The tall, blond, Christian fundamentalist Norwegian belongs to our society and is the product of a cultural crusade driven on by hated-filled leaders. The manifesto the Utoya killer wrote before his final crusade against Islam and the “Marxist defenders of a multicultural society” is riddled with references to writers, politicians and journalists that spread hatred. What is most worrying is that some of these theories have links to extreme right wing parties which themselves have their roots in the populism and xenophobia that have won most followers not only in Northern Europe but also in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Italy. Moderates such as David Cameron in the United Kingdom and Angela Merkel in Germany, have to compete against these parties on the same ground to ensure they keep their voters.
We can’t forget the words used by Oriana Fallaci in her last writings in which she referred to Muslims, the other half of the world in other words, as a group of uncivilised barbarians who have the west (“our home”) in their sights. Before heeding such words, we should remind ourselves, however, how often we’ve gone and put down roots amongst those uncivilised barbarians, killing them, looting their resources and violating their culture. Today, to use the incendiary words of Fallacci herself, there are Italian journalists who teach lessons in hatred in the name of God or Jahvè. Fiamma Nirenstein must have been rubbing her hands together in glee after finishing her “Oslo at war” editorial: “If the theory that’s been gathering force throughout the day is confirmed, then Islamism’s war against our society is ferocious and aggressive,” she wrote just a few hours after the attack. She must have been very displeased indeed to learn that the man behind the atrocity wasn’t, in fact, a barbarian. The editor-in-chief of Il Giornale, the paper for which she wrote the editorial, must have felt equally irked. According to revelations on the Linkiesta, the headline had to be changed at the last minute from the explosive “IT’S THEM AGAIN. ATTACKING US” to the rather less captivating “Tragedy in Norway”. Others who won’t have been too happy either include Maurizio Belpietro, Giuliano Ferrara and the columnist Magdi Cristiano Allam. The latter – very much on a par with Breivik in his document – has attacked the Vatican and the Cardinal of Milan Tettamanzi on several occasions in her column in Il Giornale for being too open to Islam.
On Easter Sunday, right in the middle of the election campaign for Milan city council, Allam also warned of an imminent Muslim invasion of the city which she felt would have sweep aside all opposition if Pisapia were elected to Palazzo Marino: “At 13.09 on Friday last, April 22nd 2011, the voice of the muezzin boomed out from a loudspeaker on a metal minaret on the mosque at number 366 Via Padova in Cascina Gobba.” Lots of very specific detail there, right down to the exact minute. It’s a pity, however, that said minaret at 366 Via Padova doesn’t exist and that the tower circled in the photo accompanying the article is nothing more than a Wind telephone company signal repeater. It’s a pity too that despite a public call from lawyer Luca Bauccio – who defends the interests and image of the Cascina di Gobba Islamic community – to issue a correction, Allam has failed to do so. On June 27th, the journalist who converted from Islam to Catholicism, continued her battle against Islam. The result of certain reckless words is reflected in comments from readers inciting a holy war and the demolition of all Muslim places of worship. In April (the Quarters of Europe report is in the July issue), E-il mensile travelled to Europe to check the state of health of its multicultural society. If there is anyone out there that wants to destroy the delicate art of coexistence, it is our own political system which had decided to build up hundreds of barriers to it. It’s time for us to be very careful about what we say, what we write and what we teach. Anders Behring Breivik isn’t madman or a once-off case. He’s just an excellent student of many hate-filled masters.
PeaceReporter and E-il mensile have produced a web documentary on Europe’s multicultural society which can be watched at www.multikultifactory.com In the “tell us your story” section, you can document your own personal experiences, hopes and ideas about our multicultural society. Your comments will be of great help to us in our work.
Translated by Mary Hegarty