Written by Arab News
July 24, 2011
Once again terror, terrorism strikes at the heart of a nation. This time it is Norway. At least 84 youths and members of the governing Labor party attending a political summer camp have been murdered and in Oslo seven people were killed in a series of coordinated bomb blasts. This is as much an act of political terrorism as 9/11 or the 2005 London bomb attacks or the 2008 Mumbai shootings. By their very nature the shooting spree and the bombs were intended to create political paralysis in Norway.
The country is in a state of shock. This is the most devastating attack on Norway, its political establishment and its democratic system since the World War II.
That shock and sense of total horror are felt and shared around the world. Norway is one of the last places on earth anyone would expect such an outrage. If ever there was a country seen as synonymous with peace and tranquility, it is Norway. It is the home of the world’s premier accolade for peacemakers, the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as the other Nobel prizes that are universally regarded as The recognition of human progress and civilization, regardless of race, color, creed or nationality. In its particular efforts to promote peace, stemming from its commitment to social justice, it notably tried to achieve a settlement between Palestinians and Israelis and similarly worked hard to end the civil war in Sri Lanka.
This is an aberration. Whoever was responsible, we can say with total conviction that he or they in no way represent Norway, any more than those involved in the 9/11 attacks represent Saudi Arabia or those in the 2008 Mumbai attacks represent Pakistan.
The alleged gunman has been arrested. It is said he is a conservative Christian with links to the Norwegian far right, the hallmark of which is opposition to the country’s liberal immigration policies. If true, we can also state with total conviction that he is no more representative of Christianity than the 9/11 killers represented Islam. These are the doings of twisted minds, not of a religion. Tragically, as these attacks show, it takes only one dedicated fanatic to carry out not only mass murder but mass murder that targets the very fabric of a nation.
In this case it may be that this was not the work of just one man. Given the spread and scale of the attacks, it is difficult to believe that it was — and many never will. But the ease with which such murder and mayhem was wrought, whether one man was responsible or a small group, is bound to have major consequences for Norway. It is an open society — and that extends to it politics and politicians. Its politicians and anyone linked to politics will need to be far more protected in future and kept at an arm’s length from the public. That will change the way Norwegian politics are conducted. Those lessons will to be taken on board by other countries in Europe as well — and elsewhere. On Friday it was young Norwegian Labor supporters who were gunned down in their dozens. Next month it could just as easily be young Democrats in the US or young Conservatives in the UK.
Our hearts go out to the Norwegians, and in particular to the families of all those who have been killed. But we also know that Norway is a proud and dignified nation. It will not change its politics, not will it become a less generous or liberal society because of this outrage.