How many still remember 22/7, when mass-murderer Anders Breivik went on the rampage three years ago killing 77 innocent victims? Who wants to remember the man that carried out the worst attack on Norway since the Second World War?
What will the local papers write about that horrific day, today? What will their editorials say if they grant such attention to 22/7? Will they write about the important role that tolerance and respect play as our societies become ever-culturally and ethnically diverse? Will they make a case for ethnic equality? Or will they sidetrack – as they have done in so many occasions – the issue altogether?
One of the most remarkable matters about the third anniversary of the mass killings in Norway is that the years feel like decades.
Certainly many of us don’t want to remember what happened on 22/7 because apart from writing a sinister narrative about ourselves, Breivik is also white.
How can a person who was brought up in one of the richest nations in the world, a Nordic welfare state that has social equality as an inalienable value, could not only house so much hatred but translate it into deadly violence?
Despite what forensic psychiatrists originally diagnosed Breivik, he wasn’t mentally insane when he carried out his acts.
The mass killer is an extreme example of why some find a home in racist and Islamophobic parties and groups: narcissism and opportunism, which offer a sense of purpose.
See BBC documentary on Anders Breivik here.
Even if anti-immigration and Islamophobic parties in Europe want to distance themselves from what happened on 22/7, there’s one matter that should be clear to them: no matter how many voters you lure to your party with racism, keeping such a social ill on a short leash is foolish and risky because it can bite back at its master, and hard.
We should never forget the victims of 22/7 but how intolerance can strike a crushing blow on our societies.
Despite what happened three years ago, it is ironic that far-right anti-immigration Progress Party (FrP) became a member of government last year for the first time since its founding in 1974.
Breivik was a member of the FrP between 1999 and 2006.
Aren’t the recent Euro elections a clear indication of our collective amnesia, especially in the Nordic region?
- Why did the Islamophobic Danish People’s Party (DPP) win the Euro elections in that country by gaining the most MEP seats, or four from two previously?
- Even the Sweden Democrats, whose historic roots spread into neo-Nazism, gained two MEPs?
- In Finland, the Perussuomalaiset (PS),* an anti-EU, anti-immigration, homophobic and especially anti-Islam party with ties to extremist groups like Suomen Sisu, got elected two MEPs from one previously.
- What about in other European countries like France, the United Kingdom and Greece, which saw a surge in support for far-right parties like the National Front, UKIP, and openly neo-Nazi ones like Golden Dawn?
Are we a more tolerant society today as then Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg hoped after the carnage committed by Breivik?
Even if the years feel like decades, that question will not go away anytime soon but hound us for a very, very long time.
- Migrant Tales (July 22, 2012): What have we learned after Norway’s 22/7
- Living in a post 22/7 Europe: The tide has turned
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.