Spiegel Online International: Can Europe’s Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik’s Crusade?

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment Below is a comprehensive report that looks at the tragic events that hit Norway July 22 from many angles before and after.  The mass killings, which caused the deaths of 77 people, is the worst in Norway since World War II, according to Norwegian Prime Minister Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Debate is still ongoing about the mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik, and what propelled him to carry out such horrific acts. A general consensus is emerging throughout Europe that websites and political parties that incite their followers to loathe other groups are largely if not indirectly to blame. While hate speech means generally encouraging others to carry out acts of violence against a group of people like immigrants, it is difficult to prove and sentence in a court of law.

While this may be the case, it is morally questionable and should be condemned by society.

Breivik, however, leaves us with a list of people and groups he identifies with.  When one reads his  1,518-page manifesto, it becomes clear that these people and  groups are a sort of  big family where they feed off each other’s loathing for Muslims and immigrants.

Breivik cites the following far right, right-wing populist and ultra-nationalist sites that supposedly will rally behind his “2083 European declaration of independence” declaration: Austria’s two populist parties, BZÖ and FPÖ, Sweden Democrats, Danish People’s Party,  Gert Wilders’ Freedom Party, British National Party, Lega Nord of Italy, anti-Muslim Norwegian blogger “Fjordman,” Gates of Vienna, Brussels Journal to name a few.

From Finland you will find the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party,which he cites as “anti-immigration.” PS MP Jussi Halla-aho is mentioned twice in the manifesto. Others on his questionable list are: Suomen Sisu (a nationalistic organization, according to Breivik), Suomalaisuudenliitto (nationalistic cultural organization), Bluewhites of the Finnish People (nationalist party), and Independence Party-League of Free Finland.


Norway and the world are still struggling to understand the ghastly deeds of Anders Breivik, who was driven to kill by his hatred of Muslims. His confused worldview, which Breivik describes in a 1,500-word manifesto, was influenced by European right-wing populists. Do politicians and writers share some of the blame for his terrible crimes? By SPIEGEL Staff.

Part 1: Can Europe’s Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik’s Crusade?

Part 2: Can Europe’s Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik’s Crusade?

Part 3: Is Breivik a Psychopath?

Part 4: How Does the Perpetrator Justify His Crimes?

Part 5: Where Did Breivik Derive His Ideas From?

Part 6: Who Are the People Who Influenced Breivik Intellectually?

Part 7: How Do Right-Wing Bloggers Defend Themselves Against Accusations that They Bear Part of the Blame?

Part 8: Is Breivik Different from Other Terrorists Such as Islamists and Anarchists?

Part 9: Why Didn’t Anyone Notice What Breivik Was Planning?

  1. Mark

    While I agree with your general definition of hate speech in Finland as being inciting violence, it also goes quite a bit further, at least in the letter of the law. It’s supposed to be covered by Section 8 of Chapter 11 in the penal code, i.e. under ethnic agitation:

    “A person who spreads statements or other information among the public where
    a certain race, a national, ethnic or religious group or a comparable group is
    threatened, defamed or insulted shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to a fine
    or to imprisonment for at most two years.”
    Ch 8 § 11

    Threated, defamed or insulted! That should cover almost all of Allah-oho’s statements! 🙂
    Of course, the key is in the wording ‘group’, meaning the hate speech must be seen to be directed against people, while many defend their hate speech by saying it’s directed against the religion and not the people of it. That’s hair splitting of the most ugly kind!

    • Enrique

      Mark, when we look at hate speech and how it should be treated by the law, it would be interesting to see how many cases get prosecuted in court. I am certain that not enough if we look at the web. There was one chat site Murobbs that writes about a blog entry on Migrant Tales:

      “Kiva kun ovat tuollakin sekoittaneet maahanmuuttajat sekä humanitääriset raiskaajat ja ties mitkä muut rikolliset (mahd “entiset” merirosvot/terroristit!!) keskenään. Ja sitte ollaanki automaattisesti rasisteja, kun halutaan esim puolustusvoimien ja vanhusten hoidon sijaan säästää ulkomaalaisten ilmaispalveluista, jotka ovat paremmat kuin suomalaisilla.”

      These types of comments (hate speech, defamamatory language?) just stay on the net for months if not years like Jussi Halla-aho’s. This comment groups Migrant Tales with “humanitarian rapists,” or refugees I suppose. These are many of the thousands of threads made by anonymous people.

    • Enrique

      Mark, another important point in Finland is to look at the networks and structures that make discrimination possible and drive hate speech websites. One important step would be to hire many, many more immigrants and Multicultural Finns to civil servant jobs that affect the whole immigrant community. A negative example was the dispute between Eeva Biaudet and Husein Muhammed for Ombufdsman for Minorities.

      As Finland becomes more culturally diverse and as important jobs like the police, civil servants, politicians start to be filled by more immigrants or Multicultural Finns matters will start to improve. How many immigrants or second-generaion Finns who are top managers at the Finnish Immigration Service? How many policemen? As long as you don’t have any matters will change very slowly. You will only get sympathy.

  2. Mark

    – “Do politicians and writers share some of the blame for his terrible crimes?”

    If we ask this slightly differently, ‘will politicians and writers accept some of the blame for his terrible crimes?’. Answer= Not on your life!

    Gosh, how refreshing it would be to find a writer or politician that had had seconds thoughts about the nature of some of their comments! However, it might also be political or publishing suicide to acknowledge it publicly. So, expect denials until the cows come home.

    In a way, I have some sympathy for writers and politicians. They are expressing a view, albeit one I strongly disagree with, in support of highly restrictive immigration policies, and were never advocating a massacre. How surprising too that that massacre was of their fellow native citizens, clearly executed as collaborators.

    That watchers had warned the rhetoric was becoming poisonous were dismissed as attempts to ‘silence’ their protest. That someone could take their opposition so literally, and then infuse it with the naked hatred that they themselves had been constantly denying must be hugely embarrassing. That the road from ideological nationalism to brute violence appears to have been so short and easy must also make them question the premise that European nationalism had finally shaken off its violent past.

    One thing that Breivik lacked, apart from any sense of compassion to fellow human beings, was perspective. His view of Muslims and even the left wing was painfully one-dimensional, whilst his fierce ‘patriotism’ was furnished with a massive sense of entitlement – that he had the right to take so many innocent lives.

    It is clearly this lack of perspective that Breivik shares with the majority of populist and nationalist commentators. Such a lack of perspective leads to the idea that immigration can be summed up in one of two words, as either a ‘success’ or ‘failure’, or even that national identity is homogenous and can be prescribed for immigrants much like an education in maths. Such a lack of perspective cynically goes on the hunt for ‘bad news’ so as to defame religions or ethnic groupings, knowing full well that there always be something nasty available – we’re talking about human behaviour after all.

    And on this issue of innocence, I take issue here with Halla-aho, because he said that the taking of innocent life is always wrong. The implication is that ‘combatants’ are not innocent. Breivik did not see his victims as innocents. No, Hallo-aho must go further and say the ‘taking of citizen’s life in a peaceful democracy is always wrong’, assuming he wants to qualify state sponsored murder (military action) in other circumstances.

    I’m given to reflect on the historical event of the ‘Night of the Long Knives’, when Hitler’s secret police murdered several hundred opponents (some paramilitary opponents, some political opponents and their wives) in one shocking and brutal night of bloodletting, Hitler justified it by saying:

    In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people. I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason, and I further gave the order to cauterise down to the raw flesh the ulcers of this poisoning of the wells in our domestic life. Let the nation know that its existence—which depends on its internal order and security—cannot be threatened with impunity by anyone! And let it be known for all time to come that if anyone raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot.

    Many leading Germans applauded the massacre and justified it as ‘nipping treason in the bud’. One of the reactions was a renewed and very vigourous campaign by the state and individuals to root out ‘treason’. In defending the state, anything was justifiable.

    That no politician in their right mind would justify this kind of violence in today’s Europe is true; what is less true however is that pro-immigration politicians are today accused of a kind of treason against the state. This discourse says that pro-immigrationists have somehow let the state down, failed to recognise or deal with a threat to the state (Muslim colonisation). In this discourse, Breivik’s actions are interpreted, like all of society’s ills, as an expression of ‘the problems of immigration’. The ‘theory of treason’ shifts the blame away from themselves and their heated rhetoric and instead blames those have brought about this ‘state of affairs’. Such are the arguments coming out of PS at the moment.

    Sorry for the history lesson, but there are similarities that echo down the halls of time.

    • Enrique

      Good analysis, Mark. Look at the Nuremberg Trials: nobody admitted anything or tried to play down their role. That is why we, as members of society, must make the call that politicians don’t want to make. That is what we call sharp journalism and analysis. You have to make the call. But when we do, we have to do it fairly.

      –No, Hallo-aho must go further and say the ‘taking of citizen’s life in a peaceful democracy is always wrong’, assuming he wants to qualify state sponsored murder (military action) in other circumstances.

      This is so true and what we have to distinguish is that we live in a democracy. Many of these far-right anti-immigration groups have never lived in a country where there is no free speech. Moreover, the other problem is their distance from World War 2. If they were born in the 1980s or 1990s that about 4-5 generations from that war.

  3. Hannu

    “This is so true and what we have to distinguish is that we live in a democracy. Many of these far-right anti-immigration groups have never lived in a country where there is no free speech.”

    And you want make finland one of those countries?
    Do you understand that your writings about woodcutting is hate speech what offends people like me whom family since “ages ago” have made living out of it?
    your speechs about karelia is hate speech what endangeres finland.
    your speech about far right is hate speech what causes attacks against bald people.
    Where do you draw a line?
    We have democracy where you and i have right to say what we think, not yourkind of “democracy” where other opinions are forbidden.

  4. khr

    I would not try to read too much in the “innocent” word. Rather than thinking that it’s OK to slaughter “combatants”, Halla-aho was likely just extra horrified that Breivik targeted children and youngsters. You might not like the guy but the emotional reaction is quite normal.

    • Enrique

      khr, words are never innocent they can be bullets. When I was a young journalist, an editor taught me an important lesson. He said that since words are a strong weapon that can even move mountains, we must be careful not to overkill on stories. Fairness is paramount.

  5. Frank-Roosevelt

    It is unthinkable why people still say the BZÖ is a Far-right party when even Wikipedia says:

    The Alliance for the Future of Austria (German: Bündnis Zukunft Österreich), abbreviated to BZÖ, is a conservative liberal political party in Austria. The party has seventeen seats in the National Council.

    On 15 October 2009, the party described its political position as centre-right, expressing their more moderate stance compared with the FPÖ.

    A conservative-liberal party is either center-left (US Democrats under Obama) or center-right (US Republicans under Palin).
    So if you classify the party please add that it was a former right-wing and is now center-right.
    Thank you very much and have a nice day!

    • Enrique

      Hi Frank-Roosevelt and welcome to Migrant Tales. Thank you for sharing your views with us. It’s difficult to pinpoint what a party is but there are some things that give it away. Many of these parties like the BZÖ are anti-immigrant and especially anti-Muslim. I don’t see center.left parties in the US, principally Liberal Democrats, thinking like the BZÖ on issues like immigration and on Muslims. I think the Tea Party would come closer.

      Have a nice day as well!

    • Enrique

      Hannu, there is a difference: One can be opposed to immigration policy and immigration but another thing is turning it into a horror fairy tale. That’s the big difference between constructive and destructive criticism.

  6. Hannu

    i know tho.
    Immigration MAY have some problems but ADD INTEGRATION and FIGHT RACISM and its all good?
    If it isnt its because of RACISM and locals are to blame!