Anders breivik

The ideology of madness

On the wooden jetty from which the ferry used to depart for the little island of Utoya, there stood for a while a small obelisk around which people deposited flowers. ‘If one man can show this much hate, imagine how much love we can show together’ was the marvellously trite inscription on the obelisk: vapid and close to meaningless, in either Norwegian or English. Utoya lies in the Tyrifjorden Lake about 45 minutes north of Oslo and it is where the Labour party’s ‘Workers’ Youth League’ once held its summer camps — until one afternoon in July 2011 when a man called Anders Breivik turned up, heavily armed. Breivik murdered

Terror is the new normal for Germany and France

Update: This piece was written yesterday and so is already out of date. This morning two armed men entered a church near Rouen during Mass.  They took the priest, two nuns and a number of congregants hostage. It appears that they slit the priest’s throat before themselves being killed by French security forces.  Nobody can think of any possible motive, though people claiming that attacking Christians at prayer is not a traditional Islamist practice have clearly not paid attention to Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt or any number of other countries around the world. Well this is all going very well isn’t it?  I refer of course to the totally unforeseeable, impossible to predict wave

Can a nutter also be a terrorist?

When is a nutter not a nutter, but a politically motivated terrorist? And are those two states of being always mutually exclusive? Or are they always the same thing? That first question was asked, in a fairly gentle manner, by a Muslim mate of mine on a social media site. The thread had been about the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox — and my friend was a little surprised to note the ease, if not eagerness, with which other commentators were ready to describe the alleged murderer as being simply a ‘loony’. I do not know, and will not pre-judge, the state of mind of Thomas Mair, the

Long life | 23 March 2016

Apart from the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I’ve never known what my human rights are supposed to be. Presumably they include the right to go about my daily business without being attacked, insulted or otherwise abused. But there are many grey areas. Are sudden loud noises or disgusting smells violations of my human rights? And what about the deafening mirthless laughter that I have to endure in British pubs? Perhaps my human rights are changing with age. Am I, at 76, entitled to expect an offer of a seat on a crowded Tube train? Is it my right that somebody should help me with my

Are Anders Breivik’s human rights really being contravened, or is it simply attention seeking?

Anders Behring Breivik – the Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people in 2011 – has for the last few days been involved in a human rights trial in his prison in the south of Norway. Many would argue that, for a person in jail, he has a fairly cushy life – particularly given his crime. He is allowed to play video games, read newspapers and have access to a computer, and also has access to three cells, as well as an outside area. He has also been allowed to take university courses at the country’s main university, the University of Oslo, and took part in the prison’s Christmas gingerbread-baking competition.

What’s it like to talk at length to a serial killer?

‘I’ve never met a human being who doesn’t appreciate being listened to, being taken seriously,’ said Asbjorn Rachlew, the Norwegian homicide detective who one afternoon in the summer of 2011 found himself listening to Anders Breivik, who had just killed 77 people in a shoot-out on an island near Oslo. His job, Rachlew explained, was to get Breivik to talk, but not ‘by faking it, through manipulation etc.’. You have to show real concern, he said, to get the information you need, because you have to remember that suspects, too, like Breivik, are also traumatised. ‘Banging the table and screaming etc. doesn’t help communication…’ Rachlew’s frankness, his plain speaking, as

Mass surveillance is being undermined by the ‘Snowden effect’

We are in the middle of a Crypto war again. Perhaps we have always been in the middle of a Crypto war. Since the 70s, the right and ability to encrypt private communications has been fought over, time and again. Here in the UK, Cameron’s re-election has prompted reports of a ‘turbo-charged’ version of the so-called ‘Snoopers’ Charter’, extending further the powers of surveillance that the whistleblower Edward Snowden described as having ‘no limits’. Two nights ago, the US Patriot Act expired. With it, at least officially, elements of the NSA’s bulk surveillance programme expired too. The law was passed in the wake of 9/11, in order to ‘strengthen domestic security’ and

Norway hasn’t given in to Islamophobia – but it has reacted

Under the headline ‘Norway didn’t give into Islamophobia, nor should France’, Owen Jones writes on the Guardian’s Comment is free website that Norway’s response to the Anders Breivik massacre in 2011 ‘was not retribution, revenge, clampdowns’, and that ‘the backlash [Breivik] surely craved never came’. Norway, he writes, ‘stood strong’. But did it really? I’m half Norwegian. I adore the country, and I would – and do – fight its corner any day of the week (even against our Swede-loving editor). Norway certainly hasn’t given in to Islamophobia, but it has reacted. No matter what Owen Jones says, there have been some changes in the Norwegian public’s general attitudes. In

Radio review: The Truth about Mental Health, Yes, Nina Conti Really Is on the Radio

‘Grief is work,’ said one of the parents of the teenagers killed by Anders Breivik on the island of Utoya in Norway. ‘To deal with grief — that’s work from the moment you wake up till the moment you fall asleep. And even then many people struggle with their grief when they sleep.’ His frank, no-nonsense approach was striking given that he had experienced probably the worst thing that could happen: to lose a child and in such a terrible way. He was talking to Claudia Hammond for her new World Service series, The Truth about Mental Health (Fridays). The six programmes take us on a global tour of the