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Norway Far-right Rises Despite Massacre

Published: 19/08/2013 12:18:21 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Ignoring horrific images of Anders Breivik's killing spree that shook Norway, far-right parties may come to power, as anti-immigration party that once counted Breivik as a member might join a coalition government for (more)

CAIRO - Ignoring horrific images of Anders Breivik's killing spree that shook Norway, far-right parties may come to power, as anti-immigration party that once counted Breivik as a member might join a coalition government for the first time in next month's elections.

“People can share their thoughts and their opinions — it is their democratic right,” Prableen Kaur, a 20-year-old Labor Party candidate who survived the July 22 massacre, told The Time magazine on Monday, August 19.

“I think democracy works better if every different opinion can be a part of the debate.”

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The 2013 parliamentary election is scheduled to be held in Norway on 9 September 2013.

Outside the political process, far-right extremists whose voices fell silent after the attacks are back on blogs peddling their hate.

Kaur points to a proliferation of anti-immigrant views on the comments sections of newspaper websites.

Ronny Alte, the former head of the extreme-right Norwegian Defence League who quit after Breivik's massacre, now runs a new website that includes rants against Islamic culture.

Despite mass killings by far-right extremist Breivik, elections could even see an anti-immigration party that once counted Breivik as a member join a coalition government for the first time.

The extremists, says Shoaib Mohammad Sultan, an adviser to the Norwegian Centre Against Racism, “have sort of got away with it.”

Although the anti-immigration Progress Party immediately condemned the actions of Breivik, who left their ranks in 2006, it lost a third of its support at municipal elections in 2011.

The Labor Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was praised for his dignity and sensitivity, and the party fared better than expected at the local polls.

Yet, a year later, reports revealed a catalog of security failings leading up to Breivik's rampage, regaining some of the Progress Party popularity.

Breivik killed at least 76 people were killed in twin attacks on a government building and a youth training camp in Oslo last year.

The right-wing extremist said that his assault was a self-styled mission to save European “Christendom” from Islam.

He argued his victims deserved to die because they supported Muslim immigration, which he said is adulterating pure Norwegian blood.

Reshaping Image

In its trials to reshape its image, the Progress Party now bills itself as a mainstream movement in the mold of US Republicans or the British Conservative Party.

“Our heroes,” Progress Party candidate Kristian Norheim says as he walks past photos of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan adorning the corridors of their offices.

They also refer to Breivik as “that bastard.”

Though many of the party leaders retracted previous hardline opinions, comments by Progress Party leader Siv Jensen last year that Norway should “arrange a bus” and deport people from the Roma minority raised concerns that their values remained the same.

“I had hoped that the debate had changed and that it would be a more tolerant debate, at least from the politicians,” says Asmund Aukrust, 28, one of 33 Labor Party members running for Parliament next month who survived the Utoya massacre.

The success of Progress Party would only become clearer after elections.

Current opinion polls suggest a Conservative-led coalition that would likely include the Progress Party, with voters looking for a change after two terms of Labor.

Norway is not alone.

An anti-immigration party frequently polls as the third most popular in Sweden.

The Danish Prime Minister this week felt compelled to stress that pork meatballs should be served at day-care centers, after a noisy tabloid debate about Islamic customs being adopted by state institutions.

Far-right politicians across Europe have accelerated their rhetoric against Muslim minorities in recent years.

Far-right Dutch lawmaker Wilders has called for banning the Muslim face-veil in the Netherlands and stopping immigration from Muslim countries.

In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats have unveiled plans to impose a moratorium on building new mosques in the Scandinavian country.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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