Thinking About the Terrorist Murders in Norway

I don't think this terrorist attack in Norway was a jihadist conspiracy nor is this guy a secret Islamist terrorist. He is clearly right-wing and anti-Muslim, lashing out against forces (the government and Labor Party) that he holds responsible for the growing "Islamization" or multiculturalism in Norway. The evidence also indicates, by the way, that he was not motivated by Christian religious sentiment. He looks at Christianity as an outsider.

Should we argue that such people don't exist? Should we argue that hatred of Muslims cannot provoke terrorism? Should we claim that you cannot be a "right-wing terrorist" just as one can be a "left-wing terrorist"? Of course not.

We should rather say things like -- but not limited to -- the following:

1. All terrorism is bad and should be denounced. People should constantly be urged not to turn to terrorist violence or to hatred of whole groups or peoples. The events in Norway mean that people who reach that kind of audience should redouble their efforts to discourage violence and irrational hatred.

2. Islam as a religion is not the problem. Radical interpretations of Islam -- and people have been quite creative historically in reinterpreting seemingly bloodthirsty "authoritative" verses into something else -- that now dominate in many places are the problem. A political interpretation of Islam, which we call Islamism, is the problem. At the same time, we should not hesitate to point out that a very large portion of Muslims -- the numbers are widely different in various countries -- accept these interpretations and support these doctrines. Equally, a very large number of Muslims are victims of these doctrines. Many Muslims oppose them and only with the support of those people can revolutionary Islamism be defeated.

3. There is no parallel movement or powerful doctrine among other contemporary religions that preaches hatred, terrorism, or the seizure of state power, although there have been in some of them at certain times in the past. These were overcome precisely by the reinterpretation of religious doctrine -- a situation likely to happen in Islam in the future (unless the revolutionary Islamists take over). The question is whether this process will take several decades or several centuries

4. There have been over 10,000 Islamist terrorist attacks, many of them against Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and others. The number of such attacks against Muslims in the West or indeed in the world is perhaps one percent of that number.

5. Any terrorist who attacks Muslims or tries to kill other people because they work for governments or belong to a left-of-center political party, as in this case in Norway, will be denounced by his entire society, apprehended, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All of the media, all of the intellectuals, all of the government officials will denounce this person in the sharpest terms This is hardly ever true in Muslim-majority countries.

6. Terrorists like the one in Norway are isolated individuals who have no institutional or organizational support. Islamist terrorists are usually members or supporters of large organized groups that enjoy backing from a considerable portion of public opinion. These groups have defined goals that they are capable of achieving, a point that does not apply to anti-Muslim terrorists.