However, when Breivik was exposed as a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian known for possessing hostile views towards Islam, people were surprised: A blond hair, blue-eyed killer turned out to be the madman behind the terror. This was a stark reminder that inflexible nationalism mixed with religious fundamentalism remains the primary source of bigotry, hatred and racism in the modern era.
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Although the initial assumptions as to the profile of the attacker were proven to be false, the media rush to blatantly assume an Islamic role in the affair show us that much of the world accepts that Islamic terrorism remains the primary source of violence against western liberalism, equality and democracy.
The Norway attacks are an example of genuine barbarity: A terrifying massacre committed by a dangerous fanatic. Yet as smoke began to billow over the Prime Minister’s Office and images of young corpses streamed in from Utoya, it seemed that the combination of high-powered explosives and a gruesome shooting attack of Mumbai-level coordination could only be the product of an experienced and merciless Islamic terror organization.
Media outlets from al-Arabiya to the Washington Post posited that given previous threats made by Islamists against Norway, it was likely that a veteran Islamic terror group was responsible. We now realize that this simply isn’t accurate, but a powerful residual fact remains: Consciously or not, much of the world immediately assumed an Islamic angle without a shred of evidence to back up that assertion.
Regrettably, it’s not difficult to understand how they arrived to such a conclusion.
No Christian apologetics
In the meantime, the Norway shooting has temporarily drawn the world’s attention away from a litany of Islamic terrorist acts. In Somalia, al-Shabaab has enforced a ban on foreign aid groups, preventing hundreds of thousands of Somalis from receiving aid during one of the most brutal drought and famines on record. In the Philippines, Abu Sayaf - an al-Qaeda affiliate - recently kidnapped two American nationals. The Afghani PM’s brother, Ahmad, was recently assassinated by the Taliban. Throughout the Middle East, secular groups struggling for freedom and democracy are being confronted by Islamists in the streets of Tunisia, in the churches of Cairo, and in the mountains of Yemen. This is only a partial list of recent episodes of violent Islamic extremism.
Breivik seemingly acted on his own accord, with no assistance from other individuals or organizations. He is not connected to a global network of Christian fundamentalists bent on destroying Islam. He is a lone wolf: an exception to Norwegian society.
We do not hear Christian apologetics or Norwegian politicians defending the murderous acts of Anders Breivik. There are no cries of understanding, candlelight vigils, or church leaders supporting his actions on a wide scale, and rightfully so. Compare this with the aftermath of 9/11 or the London or Madrid bombings, when many Arab and Muslims flowed into the streets in a show of support for Islamic-inspired carnage.
Today, we find radical imams lecturing against the evils of liberalism and rejection of Islam in the heart of America, Norway, Holland, and Britain, usually with no attempt to hide their devious intentions. Moreover, the world’s most unstable countries are those where Islamic fundamentalism is flourishing – as is the export of terrorism abroad - whether the insurgency in Nigeria’s River Delta, the religious radicals targeting Ahmadi Muslims on the streets of Karachi, or the Salafists attempting to exterminate Egypt’s Coptic Christian population.
In the face of such extreme violence, Western nations must reaffirm their core liberal beliefs and continue to combat all forms of extremism. While Norway is dealing with the most violent attack on its soil since World War II, the people of Iraq, India, Pakistan and dozens of other nations are enduring events like these on a daily basis. These incidents will continue to spread unless we vigorously confront them using all the tools available to democratic nations. Whether of Muslim, Jewish or Christian origin, we must be relentless in our quest to defeat this detestable form of fundamentalism wherever we encounter it. It is the sworn enemy of humanity, equality and decency.
Daniel Nisman and Avi Yesawich are independent journalists, IDF combat reservists and contributors to the IDF activism website, www.friendasoldier.com
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