Norway’s Conservatism: Would you want your daughter to marry a Sicilian?
It is literally perfect to assume that the Norway shooting spree on July 2011 did not come by chance, as Europe has been experiencing a wave of loathing for the last ten years throughout the continent. The number of individuals who excessively obsess xenophobic as well as Islamphobic expressions was significantly increased in European metropolitan cities since 9/11 and, as a result, conservatism has grabbed some attention since then. . Indeed, the action by Anders Behring Breivik has translated the inner ambition of conservative individuals into a real political manifestation.
The rise of right-wing politics in western countries is becoming clearer as they are winning too many seats in Parliamentary elections as compared to the 1990s. The racist and nationalistic elements, who advocate far more restrictions on immigration policies, have retained wide sympathizers from Ireland to Italy and from Italy to Norway. In Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and France, hard right-wing and anti-immigrant parties regularly receive more than 10 percent of the vote. According to online statistics; in Norway it is 22 percent, in Switzerland 29 percent, in Italy and Austria they have been in government.
More surprisingly, in Switzerland, the anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party has been the largest party and continues to be so. In UK, the British National Party has obtained a similar attention. Deducing from these facts and figures, it is my assessment that Europe could be turning back to its medieval era when the conservative parties had had an upper hand in all matters, virtually leading the decision making process. For instance, in UK, the slogan of the ultra-conservative party in the 17th century seemed to be abhorrent and hardly anyone in this modern age would actually tolerate it. ‘If you like a N***** as your neighbour vote for Labour’, such expressions of racism used to be the most fashionable for those days in UK and the conservatives had been in an uneven position in those governments. However, in the wake of the Norway terror attacks, it is safe to assume that a revival of such expressions is inevitable.
Notwithstanding, the sentiments of bigotry are not isolated in Europe alone. There is a strong hatred for Muslims in America too, whereas US itself is a land of immigrants albeit the proportion of Muslims is far less than other immigrants. A British reporter was asked a surprising question by an elderly Los Angeles woman recently. She asked, ‘do you have a child back in England?’ ‘No’, he said. ‘You would better start’ she replied, ‘The Muslims are breeding. Soon they will have the whole of Europe.’ In 2009, the Obama administration warned that the far right-wing parties might be at least dangerous, if not more conservative than Muslim extremists. His conclusion was bitterly denounced by the far right. But what happened in Oslo was fundamentally a demonstration of the Obama administration’s heart burning. The scenario at Norway was not a case of Muslim terrorism. It was, rather, a Christian version of Al-Qaeda which cowardly massacred innocent masses indiscriminately in the name of “a government punishment”.
When the mastermind of that event appeared in the court, he argued that he wanted to save Europe from Muslims and acted only to punish the Labour government in Norway for its relaxed policies on Immigrants. Through these remarks, he obviously revealed the level of Christian fundamentalism in Europe, because Breivik was neither a layman nor mentally unfit (though his lawyer has argued that he was mentally unwell). He bears a strong academic background and is a son of a former Norwegian diplomat.
To sum it all up, the Norway twin incidents were pre-planed and it could be anything, a conspiracy, Christian extremism or even a domestic political struggle but what is more telling is that Anders Behring Breivik is a member of Norway’s second largest party, Fremskrittspartiet – the Progress Party. His party, which was against joining the European Union, had a victory in a Norwegian referendum over a decade ago, resulting Norway not being a member of the EU. The most stated slogan of the Progress Party during that campaign was ‘would you want your daughter to marry a Sicilian?’ Obviously, the party was very much against an inter-marriage attitude in the European mainstream. Empirically, it could be very hard to expect a mismatched interpretation of the horrific incident at the youth camp and the hidden agenda of far right-wing intentions in Europe when the level of xenophobia has already normalized in such a way.
Abdulkadir Suleiman is an Intern at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs and a blogger.