By Ameen Izzadeen
Last Friday, when a Norwegian killer massacred more than 70 people in two cold-blooded terrorist acts, he blew the lid off Europe’s rot.
The civilisation where democracy bloomed, spreading its aroma far and wide beyond the borders of Europe, stands naked today. Europe, like any other region of the world, has its good and bad. It has gone through hell, Hitler and the holocaust and witnessed, recently, crimes against humanity in former Yugoslavia. Yet, in general, Europe stands out as a region where democracy thrives, human rights are respected and freedom is assured.
Notwithstanding its crimes against humanity during its shameful colonial past and horrible wars, Europe, especially Western Europe, stood out as a beacon of hope for the oppressed of the world.
It was Europe which gave us Mother Theresa, the saint of the slums in Kolkata. It was Europe which gave Eglantyne Jebb, the visionary founder of Save the Children. Born in Britain, she even cared for children in enemy territory during the First World War, for she believed “humanity as a whole is responsible for the world as a whole, and the people of every race should unite to get rid of such evils as child slavery, premature marriage, child labour and neglect and starvation of children.”
It was in Europe where a single man’s struggle — that of British lawyer Peter Benenson — to free two freedom-minded students from Portugal’s prisons saw the birth of Amnesty International, an organisation which has named and shamed many a human rights violator. Europe had been the bastion of Christian compassion which had given a veneer of goodness to the power politics many a European nation pursued even after the end of World War II. No European nation or leader dared to take up rightwing politics and be labelled a neo-Nazi. But not any more. Rightwing politics has been on the rise in Holland, Austria, Germany, France, Britain and other countries.
What gave legitimacy to right wing views, and courage to rightwing extremists to come to the open and propagate their ideology, was George W. Bush’s global crusade against terror, a euphemism for an imperialistic or neo-colonialist campaign to dominate the world, take control of its resources and sustain the greed-driven capitalist system.
So it comes as no surprise when Anders Behring Breivik, a rightwing Christian fundamentalist, killed scores of people, many of whom were youths who were attending Norway’s ruling Labour Party’s workshop on Utoya island near Oslo.
The arrest of Breivik will not end the rightwing fanaticism in Europe and elsewhere. Just as Karl Marx sought to unite the workers of the world for a proletariat revolution, Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, his template for terrorism – ‘2083: A European Declaration of Independence’ – calls on world rightwing warriors to unite in the battle against multi-culturalism, Marxists and Muslims. He identifies with the cause of Zionism and cites Hindu rightwing extremists’ campaign against India’s Muslim as an example to follow.
Today President Barack Obama is steering Bush’s wars, which have been endorsed by rightwing zealots and passive devotees alike. Despite their rightwing credentials, these wars are backed by even European governments with socialist outlook. Like Britain’s Labour government under Tony Blair, Norway’s ruling Labour Party, with pseudo-social democratic credentials, sent troops to join the rightwing war in Afghanistan and in May this year the Norwegian Air Force carried out bombing raids on Libya, obviously to the delight of Breivik and his fellow right-wingers. It was not so long ago that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that multiculturism had failed, again to the delight of Breivik. But the rightwing extremists want nothing but total war.
The war on terror — the war with a rightwing agenda — is not enough though it has made western nations compromise on democratic principles and human rights standards. It has made them endorse torture, detention without trial, the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in drone attacks, racial profiling, denying Muslim women the right to wear Niqab and hate-speech against Muslims on grounds of freedom of expression.
In the United States, because of the war on terror, attacks on Muslims and mosques are a regular occurrence, while Quran burning and the questions over the Americanity of US Muslims have become rightwing pastime — with Breivik admitting that he closely followed the acrimonious debate in the US over Islam and Muslims.
Breivik was a member of the rightwing Norwegian Progress Party, which won about 20 percent of the vote in 2009 general election. Just as Osama bin Laden and his followers have hijacked Islam and given it a twist, rightwing extremists have hijacked Christianity which is in essence an experience of the unfailing, unending ever merciful love of God and giving it to others. It is only this compassionate love with its selfless, sincere sacrificial and feet-washing service to others that could save Europe from the hell it is making for itself.
Today, thanks to Bush’s and Obama’s war on terror which has demonized Islam and Muslims, right wing politics — with hatred towards multiculturism which Breivik ridicules as cultural Marxism — is on the rise. Knowingly or unknowingly, both sides of the political divide in Europe and America, whether they like it or not, follow a right wing agenda with the embedded media becoming a mouthpiece.
(This article also appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)