With an unusual, breaking news tragedy like the shooting in Norway this past week that took the lives of around 68 individuals at a youth camp in Utoya island, I was in complete shock over the grisly details and later interested to see the developments of the case and what the world would think happened.
Based on previous news stories with big, unexpected violent outbreaks, we have been trained by the media to begin suspecting some sort of Islamic terror link or lone wolf Muslim fundamentalist.
Rumors of al-Qaeda links were immediately spread online, but afterwards, we began to find mention of the suspect’s political, right-wing, anti-government ties. There seems to be a pendulum swinging between both these perspectives and just as much anger for both the Islamist and right-wing terror.
The suspect was then identified as Anders Behring Breivik, a man who said he was part of a Knights of Templar group dedicated to ridding Europe of Islam (these claims are now being investigated and critiqued, but Breivik did write a manifesto called “2083: A European Declaration of Independence” about the evils of Islam)
Here’s one picture addressing the discrepancy in how terrorists like Bin Laden were immediately linked to their religion, while Breivik was portrayed as an individual, with no religions beliefs mentioned initially.
An interesting event connected to the Norway news was a trending topic on Twitter #blamethemuslims, which was actually started by a Muslim woman, Sanum Ghafoor, satirizing how easily people name Muslims as the root of every conflict that arises. Unfortunately, the original intent was lost as the hashtag went viral and some became confused and hurt by it. Ghafoor mentions people sending her death threats over Twitter and email. She speaks about the experience on Al Jazeera The Stream.Other Twitterers of course twisted the idea to air ignorant remarks of their own, piggybacking on the phenomenon.
Khalid Latif, NYU chaplain wrote a commentary piece for CNN on the “blame the Muslims” outlook.
Stephen Colbert even did a satirical take on the media’s desire to paint the terror suspect as a Middle Easterner or Muslim.
For other Norway coverage, here’s an Al Jazeera interview with Norway’s prime minister speaking about the victims of the shooting.
This is an interview on NBC Today with an amazing 16-year-old girl who survived the attacks by playing dead.
NPR wrote a story discussing Breivik’s lawyer’s insights on the changes his client wanted.
And here’s an essay by Mark Jeurgensmeyer on whether Breivik is in fact a Christian terrorist.
I found this event fascinating to unfold and see how people are rallying together to understand the source of this violence and what global threat is more dangerous–Islamic terrorists or right-wing terrorists or something else entirely. I’d rather not associate religion with terror, but you cannot deny that there are people out there who do want to for their own sake.
The only problem now is that Breivik so far hasn’t been granted the opportunity to explain his justification and motivation for his terror spree (if he is in fact responsible,) so we will all have to wait until that time comes to say anything else.