Fjordman’s latest essay concerns the contrast between media coverage of the massacre in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, and the kid-glove treatment granted the Toulouse murderer Mohammed Merah.
This text will form a part of Fjordman’s upcoming book about the Breivik case, “Witness to Madness”, which should be in circulation in the second half of 2013.
Two Terrorists and a Double Standard
The mass murder committed by Anders Behring Breivik during his twin attacks in Norway in 2011 understandably attracted a lot of media attention. ABB claimed to represent a much larger organization called the Knights Templar, which triggered a massive hunt for potential accomplices at home and abroad. Not a single trace has been found of this organization, which is most likely a figment of Breivik’s vivid imagination.
While it is understandable that such a claim had to be checked, in hindsight it comes off as highly questionable that the mass media in multiple countries launched a veritable witch-hunt on named individuals based on nothing other than the word of an obviously deranged mass murderer who clearly enjoyed being at the center of attention. It is instructive in this regard to compare the Breivik case to the rather different behavior displayed by the mass media when dealing with another terrorist in Western Europe some months later, Mohammed Merah.
In March 2012, in the Toulouse region of France a young Muslim man named Mohammed Merah committed a series of three gun attacks targeting French soldiers and Jewish civilians, some of them children. He murdered seven people, including three Jewish children, and was eventually killed resisting arrest after a 36-hour police siege.
In January 2013, French police arrested two men in connection with the attacks carried out by Mohamed Merah. Police officials say they doubt whether the killer acted alone. His brother Abdelkader has been charged as an accomplice and remains in custody.
In February 2013, the Jewish community in Toulouse suffered an unpleasant flashback to the previous year’s killings. “Fear is everywhere,” said Arie Bensemhoun, the chairman of Toulouse’s Jewish community. “With every passing day we become more convinced of this: that Mohamed Merah, there was not just one of him.”
The case keeps expanding. In late March 2013, more than a year after Mohammed Merah’s death on 22 March 2012 following a standoff with French police, a French soldier was arrested in connection with the shootings. Merah told negotiators during the siege that he was a member of al-Qaida. He expressed no regrets other than “not having claimed more victims” and said he was motivated by the fate of the Palestinians, the French military presence in Afghanistan and France’s ban on the full veil.
In other words, Mohammed Merah openly cited a perfectly straightforward Islamic justification for his terrorism. Yet in many news reports, Merah is still simply referred to as a “gunman” of no specific beliefs, whereas Breivik is nearly always labeled a “right-wing extremist terrorist” espousing “Islamophobic” views.
The French intelligence services downgraded an investigation of Merah just five months before he opened fire on a crowd of parents and children outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, according to leaked intelligence documents. He had been under surveillance since 2006 and was identified as a “privileged target” in 2011 upon his return to France from a trip to Afghanistan. Agents intercepted Merah in 2011 after he returned from another trip to Pakistan. Despite evidence that he had been in regular contact with “the radical Islamist movement in Toulouse” and was receiving funds from known extremists, the agency concluded that his surveillance could be curtailed. French authorities later admitted to “flaws” in the way the authorities dealt with the terrorist Merah.
Needless to say, with millions of Muslims in France, it is nearly impossible to keep track of all potential Jihadist threats. This problem continues to grow in all Western countries every single day, alongside Muslim immigration.
Abdelghani Merah, the oldest brother of the Toulouse killer, in a book denounces the role of his own father, mother, sister and brother in spawning a “monster,” claiming that the youngest of his four siblings was raised in an “atmosphere of racism and hatred”, but also of violence and neglect. He has written the book Mon Frère, ce terroriste (“My brother the terrorist”) to try to counter hero-worship of Mohamed, 23, among young Muslims.
He recalls visiting his mother’s house for a wake for Mohamed, where he was met with whoops of joy for the mass murderer from many local Muslims. People were congratulating his mother and saying “Be proud. Your son brought France to its knees.” Abdelghani screamed: “My brother is not a hero. He is a common assassin.”
Their sister, who was known to French intelligence services for being close to extreme Salafi Muslims and attending classes to study the Koran, as a devout Muslim believer has proclaimed great “pride” in her murderous brother and professed strong hatred of Jews and other non-Muslims: “Mohamed had the courage to act. I am proud, proud, proud… Jews, and all those who massacre Muslims, I detest them.”
Yet despite all of this, the then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy, allegedly a conservative, declared with confidence that “The Islamic faith has nothing to do with the insane motivations of this man.” Really?
Merah’s attacks were far from the only time Jews, some of whom are now leaving France for Israel or North America, have been attacked by Muslims in France. One of the most horrific such cases was the young Ilan Halimi, who in 2006 was tortured over a period of weeks near Paris and eventually killed by a Muslim gang. They kidnapped Halimi, a 23-year-old cell phone salesman, because he was Jewish and they thought Jews were rich. They subjected his family and a rabbi to hundreds of abusive phone calls and e-mails demanding ransom.
As journalist Nidra Poller comments in The Wall Street Journal, “The murder of Ilan Halimi invites comparison with the November 2003 killing of a Jewish disc jockey, Sébastien Selam. His Muslim neighbor, Adel, slit his throat, nearly decapitating him, and gouged out his eyes with a carving fork in his building’s underground parking garage. Adel came upstairs with bloodied hands and told his mother, ‘I killed my Jew, I will go to paradise.’ In the two years before his murder, the Selam family was repeatedly harassed for being Jewish.”
The Koran and other Islamic texts teach Muslims to despise and hate non-Muslims in general, although Jews may be slightly more hated than other infidels. In France and other European countries, Muslim immigrants have already progressed beyond attacks on the Jewish minority to verbal and physical harassment of the Christian majority population, including acts of vandalism against churches and abuse of worshippers.
Racist attacks or violence against white natives, ranging from robberies to gang rapes, are all too common and seem to be increasing. In certain lawless areas, ambulances or fire brigades risk being attack by young immigrants for no other reason than doing their job. In urban areas in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands to England, France, Greece and Spain, immigrant gangs — often Africans or Muslims — engage in street crime against the native population or even against other immigrants as well as tourists.
In early 2013, Chinese authorities publicly made a complaint directed to France that many tourists from China had been robbed of their personal belongings in the streets of Paris. Previously, the Socialist mayor of two local districts in the increasingly Arab-dominated city of Marseilles, herself of immigrant origins, pleaded that the French army must be set in against armed criminal gangs there, since the local police are overwhelmed and no longer capable of maintaining a bare minimum of order. This request has so far been rejected.
The overwhelming number of cases of what could be deemed racist violence in Europe these days thus tend to involve immigrant perpetrators and white victims. Despite this, many Western media outlets in the spring of 2012 automatically assumed that these violent attacks in France were carried out by a white native person.
The Norwegian dissident writer Nina Hjerpset-Østlie, who has a sharp pen, noted that the left-wing newspaper Politiken in Denmark, a rough equivalent to The Guardian in Britain, before the terrorist’s identity become known asked about the sources of “right-wing extremist hate.” After it became clear that the terrorist had a Muslim immigrant background, the same newspaper suddenly changed its tune and now stated that “the tragedy of Toulouse should not be misused politically.” Apparently, ideology is deemed to be of tremendous importance if the perpetrator is a European, but of little or no importance if the perpetrator is a Muslim. Hjerpset-Østlie noted the huge double standard displayed by Western mass media, which was embarrassingly obvious in this case.
While Western mass media and the political establishment still thought the perpetrator of Mohammed Merah’s terror attacks was a white, native European neo-Nazi (despite having no real evidence indicating this), the New York Times ran a prominent story which inferred that the killings were a byproduct of anti-immigrant sentiment and European so-called xenophobia. Yet after it was revealed that the killer was a Muslim who supported al-Qaida, left-wingers and so-called progressives went into overdrive to dissociate the violence from Islam.
Yes, I know that shortly after Breivik’s bomb in central Oslo, many people thought it was carried by an Islamic group. Yet I remain firmly convinced that had this truly been the case, the mass media would have gone out of their way to disassociate terrorism or violence from Islam, as they nearly always do, and would instead have emphasized more Western outreach to Muslims to improve “integration,” understanding” and “dialogue.” This is largely what they did after the Islamic terrorist bombings in Madrid, Spain, and London, England.
In contrast, after Breivik the mass media assumed that he was part of a wider movement among native Europeans. I felt the negative effects of this myself, but the media harassment went far beyond Scandinavia to Switzerland and the USA. Even in England, people who had never met Breivik lost their jobs simply for being peaceful, conservative critics of Islam and Muslim immigration, as the case of Chris Knowles demonstrates.
Tariq Ramadan, a notorious professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University in England and the grandson of the founder of the internationally powerful Muslim Brotherhood, pretended that the terror attacks had nothing to do with Islam. Ramadan instead portrayed Merah as a victim of alleged anti-Muslim discrimination in France and Europe.
The Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheehan was one of the more sensible voices, warning that it’s wrong to make a victim of a child killer: “His killings were premeditated. He filmed the murders as he did them, a tactic frequently used and advocated by al-Qaeda. He had a history of crime and a collection of weapons. He told police he had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to train as a jihad fighter. He had been on a watch list of Muslim extremists, one reason the police found him quite quickly. When they approached he opened fire. His film of the shootings was mailed to the al-Jazeera TV network for dissemination. The footage depicted all seven murders, taken with a camera slung from the gunman’s neck. The film had been dubbed with verses from the Koran invoking jihad and the greatness of Islam.”
The media were quick to portray Merah as a victim of circumstances or a mentally disturbed “lone wolf,” an isolated psychiatric case. I suppose the “wolf” analogy is easy to grasp for journalists, who often hunt their prey in packs themselves. Perhaps Merah really was a mentally unbalanced individual, but so was Breivik whom the mass media desperately wanted declared sane, so he could be used as a tool against opponents of Islamization.
Moreover, while they may have been mentally unstable, both Mohammed Merah and Anders Behring Breivik were influenced by the Jihadist network al-Qaida when carrying out their terror attacks; Merah possibly with direct ties to them, Breivik at least as an admirer and copy-cat. al-Qaida in turn base their ideas and methods on the Koran and other Islamic texts, plus the Sunna or personal example of Islam’s founder Mohammed.
On July 23 2011, the day after Breivik’s twin attacks in the Oslo region, the commentator Nicholas Kulish wrote in the internationally influential American newspaper The New York Times that “The attacks in Oslo on Friday have riveted new attention on right-wing extremists not just in Norway but across Europe, where opposition to Muslim immigrants, globalization, the power of the European Union and the drive toward multiculturalism has proven a potent political force and, in a few cases, a spur to violence.”
Notice that there is no hint of any possibility here that Muslim immigrants, the European Union, Multiculturalism or open-border policies themselves might represent problems; only opposition to this does.
The writer proceeded to lament that so-called populist parties in Europe who are critical of the above-mentioned wonders have created “a climate of hatred in the political discourse” that may encourage violent individuals. Kulish went on to state that “In the United States the deadly attacks have reawakened memories of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, where a right-wing extremist, Timothy J. McVeigh, used a fertilizer bomb to blow up a federal government building, killing 168 people. That deadly act had long since been overshadowed by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.”
The attacks in New York City and other locations in the USA on September 11th 2001 were Jihadist acts of war, according to their Islamic perpetrators from al-Qaida. They murdered about 3000 unarmed civilians, and tried to murder tens or even hundreds of thousands. Yet to this writer in a New York-based newspaper, these were merely unfortunate “events,” carried out by people with no particular ideological or religious affiliation.
Kulish wrote about various allegedly right-wing extremist or populist parties, among which he counted the Sweden Democrats, the Danish People’s Party, Norway’s Progress Party, the True Finns in Finland, Marie Le Pen of the Front National in France as well as Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. As proof of the alleged extremism of Wilders was mentioned that he has compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf. Mr. Wilders has indeed made such a comparison, but so has the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, without being labeled a “right-wing extremist” or potential terrorist for doing so.
The front-page headline in The New York Times on July 24th 2011 was stunning: “As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist.” As the American television host and author Bill O’Reilly asked at Fox News, on what grounds did the NYT brand Breivik a Christian? He has no history of extensive Christian activity and has partly admitted to committing acts counter to all Christian teaching. According to Bill O’Reilly, “Breivik did not kill in the name of Jesus. He was not a member of a Christian-based al-Qaida-like group. He was not funded by Iran or enabled by Pakistan. It seems he is simply a murderer, a man devoid of any spiritual conscience.”
It is thought-provoking that Western mass media, which are often very reluctant to label somebody “Islamic terrorists” even in cases where their Islamic motivations are openly stated, were quick to seize the Breivik case to launch an attack on alleged right-wing extremists and “Christian terrorists.” In Norway, the powerful state broadcaster NRK on national television branded Breivik as one of several “Christian terrorists.” They eagerly embraced a suggestion by the American writer and alleged terror expert Mark Juergensmeyer that Breivik is a “Christian terrorist,” even though Anders Behring Breivik himself admits that this is not the case.
ABB made a number of references to both Christianity and Islam in his manifesto, but these are incoherent, as are most other things there. Not a single piece of evidence indicates that he was a devout, practicing Christian prior to his attacks. On the contrary, ABB states explicitly on page 1344 of his so-called manifesto that “I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person as that would be a lie.” Even his main defense lawyer Geir Lippestad admits that ABB admires the violent methods employed by the Islamic terror network al-Qaida.
There is stronger case for an Islamic link than for a Christian one, given Breivik’s great admiration for Jihadist terrorists. I am on the record as stating that I will not be surprised if Breivik converts to Islam in prison, yet although I am willing to discuss the matter, I remain unconvinced that he was a convert prior to his attacks.
Mohamed Merah claimed to “love death” more than life, a common slogan among Islamic Jihadists, and he did actually embrace death when he was killed during an armed standoff with the police. Anders Behring Breivik could easily have done the same thing and embraced “martyrdom” as he suggested, but he didn’t. That’s probably because Breivik loved fame more than death. To the extent that Breivik and his highly confused mind belonged to any “religion” at the time of his terror attacks it was the Cult of Celebrity and Narcissism.
Active support for the murders committed by Breivik in Norway was minuscule in right-wing circles; with the possible exception of extremely marginal figures or fringe neo-Nazi groups — if one classifies such Socialists as “right-wing.” The investigation and trial revealed no connections whatsoever between ABB and any wider movement. This is in sharp contrast to the attitude about Mohamed Merah among quite a few Muslims.
Several otherwise well-meaning people have suggested that “the Koran is what Muslims make of it,” which seems to imply that the text is nearly infinitely elastic and that it’s therefore largely irrelevant what it actually says. I happen to disagree with this assertion, and I’m not the only one doing so.
In Denmark, the linguist Tina Magaard has concluded that Islamic texts encourage terror and fighting to a far greater degree than the texts of other religions. She has a PhD in Textual Analysis and Intercultural Communication from the Sorbonne, Paris and spent three years on a research project comparing the original texts of ten religions. “The texts in Islam distinguish themselves from the texts of other religions by encouraging violence and aggression against people with other religious beliefs to a larger degree. There are also straightforward calls for terror. This has long been a taboo in the research into Islam, but it is a fact we need to deal with.”
Moreover, there are hundreds of calls in the Koran for fighting against people of other faiths. “If it is correct that many Muslims view the Koran as the literal words of God, which cannot be interpreted or rephrased, then we have a problem. It is indisputable that the texts encourage terror and violence. Consequently, it must be reasonable to ask Muslims themselves how they relate to the text, if they read it as it is,” says Magaard.
After Breivik’s attacks, some of the peaceful authors who were cited in his confused manifesto, such as Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer or me, were accused by members of the press of inspiring terrorism. Yet not one journalist could come up with a single quote where these Islam-critical authors have encouraged terrorism.
At the same time, we are told by members of the press to ignore references to Jihad or Islamic teachings invoked in countless Islamic terror attacks around the world, even though the Koran and Islamic texts contain many explicit and graphic references encouraging aggression or violence against non-Muslims. Such a blatant lack of logic does not stand up to closer scrutiny, but has nevertheless become surprisingly widespread.
In January 2013, Muslim Jihadist terrorists with links to the al-Qaida terror network took hundreds of people hostage at a natural gas facility near In Aménas, Algeria. Algerian Special Forces soon raided the site, but many hostages were killed by the Islamic hostage takers.
It later turned out that at least two of the Muslim terrorists who died in Algeria were Canadian citizens. One of them was a convert to Islam of European origins who “came from a comfortable middle-class neighbourhood.” It is strange how converts to Christianity or Buddhism hardly ever behave in this manner, whereas converts to Islam often do, disturbingly often. Why is that?
One Algerian who managed to escape told France 24 television that the kidnappers said, “We’ve come in the name of Islam, to teach the Americans what Islam is.” The kidnappers then immediately executed five hostages who, sadly, got to learn what Islam is in the most brutal manner possible. They also separated Muslims from non-Muslims and systematically targeted non-Muslims, following a perfectly traditional Islamic pattern of Jihad warfare. The suspected leader of this extremely brutal and highly organized attack, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was a committed Jihadist warrior who named one of his sons after Osama bin Laden, the long-time leader of al-Qaida.
Sonatrach, the Algerian state oil company running the Ain Amenas site along with Britain’s BP and Statoil, Norway’s most powerful company by far, confirmed the refinery had been mined. The terrorists had planned to kill more people and blow up the entire gas plant. In Britain, the reliably pro-Islamic public broadcaster BBC was criticized for calling the murderous thugs behind the hostage killings “militants” rather than “terrorists.”
What is disappointing, but not the least surprising to those who actually understand what’s going on, is that some of these Islamic terrorists apparently had weapons and equipment that were supplied to Jihadist groups in North Africa with Western backing, when NATO and Western governments from Britain and France to the USA supported Islamic rebel groups in their overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during the so-called Arab Spring in 2011.
Some of the more sensible voices, for instance the eloquent American author and newspaper columnist Diana West, have consistently warned against the dangerous lack of wisdom in supporting armed Jihadist groups who might well target Westerners in the future. These timely warnings were, as usual, not heeded by the arrogant and stupid Western ruling class. They have learned absolutely nothing from this strategic blunder, either, and are currently in the process of repeating the exact same mistake, arming enemies and potential terrorists among the Jihadist so-called rebels in Syria, who are known to include al-Qaida sympathizers within their ranks.
Several of the murdered victims of the Islamic terrorists in Algeria were Norwegians and other Europeans, yet Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway nevertheless officially stated that while these violent acts were reprehensible and must be condemned, we do not known the motivation the terrorists had for doing this.
Actually, we do: it’s called Jihad, and has been an inseparable component of Islamic teachings and practice for well over a thousand years. Whatever other faults these Jihadists have, they can sometimes (if not always) be quite open about their intentions. The same Mr. Stoltenberg and other representatives of his coalition government have indicated that “anti-Islamic forces” were partly to blame for Breivik, even after the police indicated that he had carried out his attacks alone and the first psychiatric evaluation indicated that he is insane.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his government thus don’t want to link aspects of Islamic culture to terrorism even when such links are glaringly obvious, but have been quite aggressive in pointing fingers at allegedly anti-Islamic connections to terrorism when these were dubious at best. The hypocrisy is staggering, but unfortunately not surprising. Most of the Western ruling elites now behave in largely the same manner.
Let’s make a summary:
Breivik’s sister and other family members were horrified by his terror attacks, which they had nothing to do with. Mohammed Merah’s sister is on the record as praising her brother for his mass murder, and one of his brothers has been charged with actively aiding these murderous attacks. Except for some extremely marginal figures, no one on the “right wing” in Europe has supported Breivik’s terror attacks. Mohammed Merah has become a hero for an alarming number of young Muslims in Europe because of his terror attacks.
Immediately after his identity became known, many Western mass media claimed that Breivik’s terror attacks were ideologically motivated by anti-Islamic writings. Immediately after his identity became known, many Western mass media claimed that Merah’s terror attacks were not ideologically motivated and had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam or Islamic writings. In other words: Terrorism has nothing to do with being Islamic, but a great deal to do with being anti-Islamic.
After his attacks, the media indicated that while Breivik may have carried out his attacks alone, he was sane and came from a big flock of supporters. The same people indicated that Merah was a lone wolf and possibly insane. Yet years later, the police have found to trace of Breivik’s alleged “flock,” whereas Merah probably did come from a flock of supporters, and may have been aided by others in an organized manner prior to his attacks.
The very different treatments these two terrorists have received reveal a sometimes staggering double standard in the mass media and academia, not just in one nation but in multiple Western countries on both sides of the Atlantic.
This finding says a lot about the sorry state of Western civilization in the early twenty-first century. It is in many ways more significant and interesting than the mind of the deranged sadist Anders Behring Breivik.
For a complete archive of Fjordman’s writings, see the multi-index listing in the Fjordman Files.