A label for Anders Behring Breivik


When news broke about the bombing in Olso, many commentators assumed links with Islamic extremism. 

When reports came of the massacre on Utøya island, perpetrated by a “tall, blonde, Nordic, man,” speculation subsided until Anders Behring Breivik was identified. 

News reports first described Breivik as a “Christian terrorist,” largely on the basis of his Facebook profile and his postings to Christian fundamentalist Web sites. After his manifesto became public, Breivik was characterised as a “right-wing extremist.” To most, the Christian terrorist/right-wing extremist distinction makes little real difference: Only a madman could engage in such wanton killing.

Amid summaries of the 1500 page manifesto, Breivik’s religious beliefs are set in the context of an explicitly political agenda: his vision of a Christian Europe is predicated on the expulsion of Muslims to stem the tide of “Islamisation” and “multiculturalism.” 

When it comes to Muslims themselves, Breivik portrays them as cunning enemies. 

The religious content of the manifesto, especially its references to Christianity, is a hodge-podge, a series of bizarre after-thoughts buttressing Breivik’s xenophobic and paranoid worldview.

Breivik calls himself a “cultural Christian.” Religious Christians, he observes, have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which he himself does not have. 

For Breivik, “Christendom” is a vehicle for preserving European self-identity and is not necessarily opposed to elements of “paganism” such as Breivik’s own “Odnistic/Norse” heritage. The Christian history that Breivik seeks to reenact is not the passion of Jesus Christ, but the narrative of the Crusades. 

Mathew N. Schmalz, Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts

FULL BLOG: Anders Behring Breivik: Christian terrorist? Right-wing extremist? Madman? (Washington Post)

LINKS:

2083: A European Declaration of Independence (Breivik’s manifesto)

Anders Behring Breivik (Wikipedia)

This is not a crazed loner, this is a terrorist (Waleed Aly, The Drum)

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