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Sunday, July 24, 2011

An-Nahar Newspaper: Terror In Gold And Blue

[Administrator's Note: Octavia is now writing articles for An-Nahar Newspaper each week and we will provide them here after they are printed.]

Everything I’ve ever known about Norway is beautiful, peaceful and fun. Through my work, I was privileged to learn a lot about the Scandinavian country through regular reports from local broadcasters and their fine journalists.

The world’s eyes turned to Norway in 1993 when the famous Oslo Accord was signed between Palestinians and Israelis leading up to the historic Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House Lawn. In addition to being the prominent host of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Oslo Accord instilled the nation in many people’s minds as the land of peacemaking and hope for a better future.

On Friday evening, as life should have been going on as normal in Norway, the news broke that a car bombing ripped through the capital Oslo followed by more horror with a deadly shooting at a youth camp across the city. The only man suspected in both attacks was arrested shortly after. Anders Behring Breivik is an ordinary Norwegian with a fundamentalist Christian ideology and a dark political agenda. He is responsible for the death of almost 100 people, mainly teenagers. We learned through his lawyer that Breivik thinks what he did was “necessary” and that he will “explain himself” soon.

Whether you label him a white terrorist, a Christian terrorist or a Norwegian terrorist, he is an extremist who believed in taking matters into his own hands and terrorized his fellow countrymen and robbed them of their innocence and peace. He inflicted so much pain on individuals, families and an entire nation that will need a long time before it awakens from the shock of this tragedy before it starts the healing process.

The problem is that there are others like Breivik around us in every country. So, what are we to do now? Should we be suspicious of every blond with blue eyes we encounter? Will we treat as suspect everyone who expresses extreme opinions against the state or rule of law? In a world where western media have conditioned people to equate terror with Islamic fundamentalism, how are we to deal with this not so new reality?

An unknown Jihadi group claimed responsibility for the twin attacks soon after they occurred. Many western media organizations, Americans in particular, treated the claim as credible for a long time. Then when it became apparent that this is homegrown terror very much like the Oklahoma City Bombing of 1995 and its white terrorist Timothy McVeigh, there was a shift to understand “what went wrong” in society. This would be an understandable reaction for Norwegians as they are directly affected. When attacked by an outsider, people tend to fight back. But when they are attacked by one of their own, it’s much harder to digest and deal with this reality; thus, they search for answers. But world media have a responsibility of searching for the truth no matter who is behind the attack. It seems that we have a long way before we get to that point.

The majority of Western media are quick to condemn and pass judgment only when Islamic terrorism is involved. They exercise more caution when terror is carried out by locals who don’t fit the image of terrorists as they have painted it over the years such as an Arab, a Muslim, or a dark skinned person with a Muslim or Arabic sounding name.


Norway reminds us of a truth we should never forget. Terrorism is the same whether the one who carries it out has dark hair and dark brown eyes or blond hair and blue eyes. When terror wears a white face, blond hair and a pair of blue eyes, we should not stop and ponder what happened to society. We should instead condemn the act and treat the suspect with the same judgment as we would the foreign terrorist and not a single way differently. Norway seems to be doing just that with added poise by its Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg who has vowed, “We will retaliate with more democracy.” Mr. Stoltenberg has also said before the suspect was identified and when speculations were floating around, “No one will bomb us into silence.”

To know Norway is to understand that the Premier’s comments stand for Home Terror and Foreign Terror equally.

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