The headlines have been grim. Europe’s Jews face “rising anti-Semitism”; in some countries, many are leaving in “record numbers.” In separate incidents in recent months, gunmen have targeted Jews and Jewish institutions in Paris and Copenhagen. Even the Jewish dead have not been left in peace, with reports of graves being desecrated.
But the future of tolerance and multiculturalism in Europe is far from bleak. The bigotry on view has been carried out by a fringe minority, cast all the more in the shade by the huge peace marches and vigils that followed the deadly attacks. And some communities are trying to build solidarity in their home towns and cities.
One group of Muslims in Norway plans to form a “ring of peace” around a synagogue in Oslo on Saturday. On a Facebook page promoting the event, the group explained its motivations. Here’s a translated version of the invite:
Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other. Muslims want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews, and that we are there to support them. We will therefore create a human ring around the synagogue on Saturday 21 February. Encourage everyone to come!
Just 70 people showed up to take part in an anti-Islam Pegida march in Oslo on Monday, with the group far outnumbered by counter-demonstrators.
Pegida organizer Max Hermansen had to fight to make himself heard as he addressed supporters outside City Hall.
Some 200 counter-demonstrators lined up nearbycarrying anti-Islamophobia banners and shouting: “No support for Breivik’s prayers” and “No racists on our streets”.
“I’m here to show that nobody can be judged on the basis of their skin colour or religion,” said Linda, 23, who did not want to give her surname.
Demonstrators from the Norwegian Centre against Racism and far-left groups Blitz and Rødt marched from Youngstorget to the Parliament, while Nye SOS Rasisme’s followers walked from the National Theatre to City Hall.
Pegida’s Hermansen spoke of death threats made by Islamists against organizers in the movement’s home city Dresden.
“It’s clear that we’re not getting the freedom of speech we desire. In Oslo we were prevented from walking a four-kilometre circuit and instead had to walk around City Hall three times.”
Hermansen had hoped to gather 250-400 supporters for the march.
A large police presence was in place at City Hall to keep the demonstrations apart.
This will be disappointing news for Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, as they have failed in their efforts to penetrate Norwegian society with their hate.
If only Denmark would follow suit and realize the errors of their ways.
What will it take for other European nations to wake up to the right-wing threat?
It would be a great thing if this became a worldwide trend.
Even in Scandinavia, well known for its large female political representation, public debate is dominated by men. Business conferences with a 100 percent male speaker lineup are not rare. Some of these men are tired of debating only men, and are taking action to change it.
In Sweden and Norway, male speakers are now refusing to participate in conferences and panel discussions without female representation.
The idea is that men, when they are invited to speak at a conference or participate in a debate panel, will ask whether women are represented on the programme. If not, they will turn the invitation down say no, thanks. […]
More: Men Say No, Thanks
My Muslim brothers should step up and say no thanks, too http://t.co/cDzcxQJxG1
Hero of the Telemark Raid Dies Aged 101: Carried Out Raid on Hydroelectric Plant to Thwart Hitler’s Nuclear Ambitions
RIP, sir, and thank you.
Long and fascinating story, much more at link. They mean “heavy” rather than “hard” water. Probably to be corrected soon.
One of the last two survivors of the legendary Second World War ‘Heroes of the Telemark’ raid, which helped thwart Hitler’s plans to build a Nazi nuclear bomb, has died aged 101.
Just 31 at the time, Norwegian Birger Stromsheim was the oldest member of the team who successfully destroyed the hard (sic) water production facility at the Norsk Hydoelectric plant in Telemark, southern Norway.
The raid, which is regarded as one of the most successful acts of sabotage in World War II, was also remarkable for the fact all the team managed to escape by cross country skiing 250 miles into Sweden.
The plot had parallels with Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who set off a bomb in Oslo last year and then went on a gun rampage on a nearby island, killing a total of 77 people.
“The would-be bomber did not hide his fascination with Breivik. This should not be ignored,” Tusk told a news conference.
The prime minister said that investigators had found practical connections to Breivik too: the Norwegian bought bomb components in Poland, he said, and an analysis of his contacts helped lead Polish intelligence to the suspect.
Authorities in Norway said they had been in touch with their Polish counterparts but gave no details.
Briefing reporters in the Polish capital, prosecutors said the suspect had assembled a small arsenal of explosive material, guns and remote-controlled detonators and was trying to recruit others to help him.
A video recording taken from the suspect, who has not been publicly identified, showed what prosecutors said was a test explosion he conducted, sending up a huge cloud of dust and leaving a large crater in the ground.
“He claims that he was acting on nationalistic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic motives,” prosecutor Mariusz Krason said.
“He believed the situation in the country is going in the wrong direction, described the people ruling Poland as foreign and said they were not true Poles.”
“He carried out reconnaissance in the neighborhood of the Sejm (parliament). This building was to be the target of the attack,” Krason said.
OSLO - A Norwegian court found Anders Behring Breivik sane on Friday and gave him a maximum jail term for murdering 77 people in a shooting and bombing last year, offering closure to a Nordic nation devastated by its worst attack since World War Two.
Breivik, who has admitted blowing up the Oslo government headquarters with a fertilizer bomb, killing eight, before gunning down 69 at the ruling party’s summer youth camp, was sentenced to 21 years in prison, the maximum penalty in Norway.
But officials can prevent his release indefinitely and are expected to do so if the anti-Muslim right-winger still poses a threat. Breivik had rejected prosecutors’ arguments that he was mad, and had said he would appeal if he were ruled insane.
“In a unanimous decision … the court sentences the defendant to 21 years of preventive detention,” said judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen, dismissing the prosecutor’s call for a verdict that would have labelled Breivik insane and have confined him indefinitely to psychiatric care.
The killings shook this nation of five million which had prided itself as a safe haven from much of the world’s troubles, raising questions about the prevalence of far-right views in a country where oil wealth has attracted rising immigration.
A man suspected of planning attacks similar to those carried out in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested in the Czech Republic, according to police.
Police said an assault rifle, explosives, ammunition and police clothing were found in his apartment.
The 29-year-old old man was detained in the eastern city of Ostrava a week ago.
Breivik, dressed as a police officer, shot dead 69 people on an island after setting off a bomb in Oslo last year.
The BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague says police in Ostrava were alerted to the suspect because he used the name of Breivik in email correspondence.
Police searched the apartment on 10 August, but have only now disclosed details of what was found.
Our correspondent says police raided the property after being tipped off that he was planning to detonate a large explosive device crafted from an aircraft bomb.
The man was carrying a remote controlled detonator when he was arrested, he says.
Norway is commemorating one year since 77 people were killed and 242 hurt in gun and bomb attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utoeya.
PM Jens Stoltenberg laid a wreath in Oslo before travelling to Utoeya, where he was joined by hundreds of people, including relatives of the dead.
Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted carrying out the two attacks, remains on trial.
“The killer failed; the people have won,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
Most of the dead were young activists with the Labour Party who had been staying on Utoeya as part of a summer camp.
“It’s been a very heavy year for all of us. Not a day has passed the tragedy has not filled the room,” Mr Stoltenberg said at a wreath-laying ceremony in Oslo.
The trial of Anders Behring Breivik ended Friday with the confessed mass killer demanding to be set free and vowing that history would exonerate him for a bomb-and-gun rampage that killed 77 people.
The self-styled anti-Muslim militant got the final word in the 10-week proceedings, but it’s unclear whether it helped the main point of his defense: trying to prove that he is sane.
In a rambling statement, Breivik lashed out at everything he finds wrong with the world, from non-ethnic Norwegians representing the country in the Eurovision Song Contest to the sexually liberated lifestyle of the characters in the American TV show “Sex and the City.”
Incorporating current events into his statement, he claimed that fellow right-wing extremists were behind a small amount of explosives found outside a Swedish nuclear plant this week. Swedish police spokesman Tommy Nyman said he had no comment, “especially not if he says it.”
While some of Breivik’s comments prompted laughter in the Oslo court, a serious atmosphere returned when he reiterated his motive for bombing the Norwegian capital’s government headquarters, killing eight, and hunting down teenagers at the Labor Party’s youth camp. Sixty-nine people were dead and dozens more injured in one of the worst peacetime shooting massacres by a single gunman.
“History shows that you have to commit a small barbarism to prevent a bigger barbarism,” the 33-year-old Norwegian said.
“The attacks on July 22 were preventive attacks to defend the indigenous Norwegian people,” he said. “I therefore demand to be acquitted.”
Breivik claims the governing Labor Party has betrayed the country by accepting Muslim immigrants and must be stopped before turning Norway into what he called a “multiculturalist hell.”
Earlier Friday, defense lawyer Geir Lippestad had tried to prove his client is sane — the key issue to be resolved in the trial since Breivik admits the attacks.
Lippestad also formally entered a plea for acquittal, but it was made out of principle, without any realistic chance of success.
Also Friday, relatives of some of those killed tried to put their loss in words. Kirsti Loevlie, whose 30-year-old daughter Hanne was killed by the bomb, moved the court room to tears when she described the shock of finding out her daughter was dead, the grief of cleaning out her room and the first Christmas without her.
Still, Loevlie said she felt a need to attend the trial, seeing Breivik in a position where he couldn’t hurt anyone anymore.
“I am not going to be afraid of this man,” Loevlie said. “I decided I would go to court. I felt I owed it to Hanne.”
The court room burst out in applause and audible sobs as she finished her statement.
Breivik remained motionless, his face blank.
Lippestad tried to prove to the court that Breivik’s claims of being a resistance fighter in a struggle to protect Norway and Europe from being colonized by Muslims are not delusional, but part of a political view shared by other right-wing extremists.
I think that last point is pretty much spot on. If Breivik is delusional, so is everyone else that’s gone way off the rails with the Islamophobia. Could these attacks even have happened in a different political climate, one less charged with racial tensions and religious hatred?
Breivik is still happy to be a right wing hero and he will probably be considered one even more so if he is locked up indefinitely.
Through the whole trial and even through his writings that surfaced after the attack, he’s been consistent the whole way through. This isn’t just some lone wolf with a crazed ideology, it’s the natural and inevitable extension of the kind of fear mongering Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer engage in every day.
There ARE other Breiviks out there, some right here in America. It’s not a question of IF they’ll make themselves known, but when.
The trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo is waiting to hear whether prosecutors will ask for him to be sent to prison or into psychiatric care.
They have begun summing up their case, with their decision resting on whether they believe he was sane when he killed 77 people in Norway last year.
Conflicting psychiatric evaluations were presented earlier.
Breivik bombed government buildings in Oslo before shooting young Labour Party supporters at an island camp.
As well as killing 77 people, he injured 242.
Breivik sought to justify his attacks by saying they were necessary to stop the “Islamisation” of Norway.
The defence concludes on Friday, and a verdict is expected in July or August.
One of the prosecutors, Svein Holden, said that under Norwegian law, reasonable doubt should benefit the defendant in cases of criminal guilt.
However, he asked whether that should also apply to the question of the defendant’s accountability.
Continue reading the main story
22 July attacks
8 people killed and 209 injured by bomb in Oslo
69 people killed on Utoeya island, of them 34 aged between 14 and 17
33 injured on Utoeya
Nearly 900 people affected by attacks
Norway attacks: The victims
How the attacks unfolded
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Holden’s colleague Inga Bejer Engh told the court it had always been the prosecution’s clear view that the case should be treated like any other criminal case.
“We must also accept this court will never find all the answers to our questions,” she added.
“How did he become this killing machine? How many did he try to kill on that day?”
Without a hint of regret, she said, Breivik had told the court how he had reloaded his gun while victims sat waiting for him to kill them on the island of Utoeya.
Breivik could be seen smiling at times as he listened to the prosecutor.