Recent tragic events in Norway remind the world that terrorism comes in many shapes and forms, including blond and blue eyed Viking males. Islam has no monopoly on religiously inspired violence.
|The cover of Anders Breivik's 1,500 page manifesto for 'reclaiming' Europe|
As events first started to unfold, most people will have automatically assumed the Oslo bombing was the handiwork of some Al-Qaeeda inspired Islamic group. Mainstream media outlets started publishing articles explaining why Norway was a target for Islamic extremists – NATO member, troops in Afghanistan, etc.
The internet's underworld immediately filled with derogatory comments about Muslims and Islam; comments which would certainly be considered anti-Semitic and land one in court if they were written about Jews.
There is no point suggesting the world's media plays upon general prejudices. It does. There are no headlines when three 'true blue' Europeans are convicted by a Swiss court for attempting to bomb an IBM technology centre in Switzerland.
Right wing European anarchist terrorism takes lives differently from say three Frenchmen of Algerian origin arrested for suspicion of terrorism, based simply on media coverage.
Undoubtedly, Islam has a problem with extremism. However, neither Jamal Zougam in Madrid nor Anders Breivik in Norway operated in a vacuum. Both individuals were products of mistaken intellectual exercises in religious philosophy, i.e. individuals who succumbed to abhorrent interpretations of Islamic and Christian beliefs.
The battle for the future of civilization is being fought not in the mountains of Afghanistan but on ideas fermenting on the internet. The popularity of Anders Breivik's 1,500 page anti-Islam 'Crusade' manifesto might indicate the extent to which the Christian 'Taliban' has made inroads into mainstream Western democracies.
Right wing Christian hatred is as lethal as any fiery sermon by radical Al-Qaeeda inspired clerics. Moreover, such hate mongering only feeds the malicious cycle of loathing between segments of the Western and Islamic worlds.
The ideological basis on which radicals commit to their cause, Christian or Muslim, must be addressed. Force is merely one (necessary) tool to counter extremist ideas. However, force used without simultaneous refutations of misconceived ideologies will fail to capture the 'wavering mainstream.'
Christian terrorism in Norway will initiate further introspection in Europe about the continent's immigration and multiculturalism policies. However, maybe Breivik's actions will also provoke a debate about the underlying causes of political violence and the environment which encourages such violence.