Norway attacks spotlight Europe’s extremists

The Takeaway

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The country of Norway observed a period of silence this morning for the victims of the attacks that took place on Friday. Anders Behring Breivik, an apparent right-wing extremist and Christian fundamentalist, is being held after apparently targeting Norway’s government institutions for their liberal policies toward immigration.

The combined death toll from the bombing in Oslo and shooting on the island of Utoya now stands at 93, with 97 injured.

As Europe struggles with issues of integration and assimilation, Norway’s attacks have exposed the danger of the continent’s right-wing extremists. The suspect’s tirades against multiculturalism and Islam come at a time when governments across the continent work to ease immigration and cultural differences. The country must now face the prospect of more violence.

Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology at Oslo University, says Breivik’s extreme views are widespread. “Tens of thousands of people who largely share parts of his world view to the effect that the Norwegian government has somehow sold out the country by allowing too many aliens in,” said Erickson. “And that there is an irreconcilable conflict between the West and Islam so that the very presence of Muslims in Europe is an extreme provocation.”

Breivik, who said he wanted to “defend Europe” from Muslim immigration and liberal governmental policies, had planned to wear an outfit reportedly bearing a crusader’s cross to trial. A judge has ruled his trial, like his arraignment today, closed to the press.


“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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