Norwegian Killer “Acted From Christian Right-Wing and Anti-Muslim Sentiments”

Photo of Anders Behring Breivik

(AMSTERDAM) The suspect in the bomb and shooting attacks in Norway on Friday has admitted responsibility and appears to have acted out of deep-seated Christian right-wing and anti-Muslim sentiments, with his attacks apparently inspired by a pan-European movement against immigration and perceived multi-cultural policies.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, was arrested after the shooting spree on an island near Oslo where the Norwegian Labour Party was holding its annual youth summer camp. He targeted the party and the government that it leads because he saw them as “traitors” to their own society and “enablers of Islamisation” of their country.

In a rambling 1,500-page manifesto posted on the internet, Mr Breivik defined his mission as the “systematical and organised executions of multiculturalist traitors”. He signed the document, which his lawyer said Mr Breivik admitted posting before the attacks, as Andrew Berwick, apparently an anglicised version of his name, He called himself a member of the reconstituted Knights Templar, a medieval crusading military-religious order.

The clear identification of Mr Breivik with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim ideologies set off a scramble over the weekend among right-wing activists and parties to distance themselves from him.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, who leads the anti-immigrant Party for Freedom, PVV, and who props up the Dutch right-of-centre minority government, reacted online to reports that the Norwegian attacker admired his party. Mr Wilders called the suspect a “horribly sick psychopath” and said that the PVV “despises everything that he stands for”.

The prominent American right-wing blogger Pamela Geller, who led the protests this year against an Islamic centre near Ground Zero in New York, also weighed in, disavowing the notion that right-wing ideology had played a role. “There was no ‘ideology’ here. No mandate for murder, and all the leftists, Islamic apologists and Islamic supremacists and media hounds won’t make it so,” she wrote on her blog, Atlas Shrugs.

But Mr Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, signalled that his client maintained that he was sane, ready to stand trial and even eager to explain his motives. “He wanted a change in society and, from his perspective, he needed to force through a revolution,” he told Norway’s public broadcaster, NRK.

His client realised what he had done and was aware of the pain that he inflicted, Mr Lippestad said. “He felt that his actions were gruesome, but necessary.” Mr Lippestad said that Mr Breivik acted alone.

The attacks and the long online document that Mr Breivik posted had been years in the making, the lawyer said. He added that his client was “sitting on a lot of hatred”.

The document details both the suspect’s ideology and his painstaking preparations for the attacks. It has not been authenticated by the police but Mr Lippestad acknowledged that is was written by his client.

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