The events of Friday, July 22nd in Norway are being called the deadliest attacks by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times. The reason behind the attacks have recently come to light. Initially, many thought Muslims belonging to Al Qaeda were responsible and that it was in protest of Norway’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ironically, the attack was not perpetrated by Muslims, but actually directed towards them. Anders Behring Breivik – the 32-year-old man behind the attacks – was crusading against “cultural marxism” and has said that what he did was “necessary”. Breivik once belonged to the Progress Party, which opposes immigration. The youth retreat where he sprayed bullets at dozens of children was sponsored by the Labour Party, which favors immigration.
So, in sum, Breivik wants to stop the spread of Islam to a historically homogeneous country and felt that killing was the way to go.
“Once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough, or you risk reducing the desired ideological impact of the strike,” his electronic manifesto reads.
Well then. Is that so? A massacre of innocent children is going to increase the ideological impact? It’s going to get you closer to your goal of halting the spread of Islam?
You see, most people would classify this guy as a heartless lunatic. And well, he is, in my opinion. But, while many would oppose his tactic, how many would agree with his ultimate goal? Several, I would think.
All too often, people equate Islam with violence and inequality. But those two qualities are not inherent in the religion (in the way it was originally practiced). We were attacked by Islamic extremists on 9/11 and then heard of deep inequality in Afghanistan and Iraq and now believe that Muslims are violent people who perpetuate inequality. And therefore, people like Breivik oppose the spread of Islam.
But what we need to realize is that Muslims, in general, are neither violent nor bent on inequality. Here in America, we get a skewed image of what Islam is. Sure, there are Muslims who are extremely violent. Sure, there are Muslims who create inequality. But that is by no means a fair representation of the entire religion. Still, many look at it with suspicious and resentful eyes.
This brings me back to last summer, when there was a debate over whether it was appropriate or not to build a Muslim community center (COMMUNITY CENTER…not a MOSQUE as many believed was the case) near the site of ground zero. So many argued that it was disrespectful to the victims of 9/11, but I never understood the validity of that argument. I could see how it would be inappropriate if someone wanted to build a statue of Osama Bin Laden near ground zero, or some Al Qaeda meeting center…but a Muslim community center? I don’t see anything wrong with that. The men who attacked us were Muslims, yes…but they were extremists with radical views. Most Muslims don’t inherently hate Americans (well…they didn’t before we took over their countries…). So to argue that a Muslim community center near ground zero is disrespectful toward Americans because the terrorists were Muslim is plain ridiculous (click here to read a column about how the couple who wanted to build the community center have, in fact, worked hard to repair the relationship between Muslims and Americans).
Let’s look at it this way: KKK members hate black people and believe that God has deemed whites the “superior race”. But that is certainly not the view of most Christians, right? Would it be inappropriate to build a community center for Christians near a place where several lynchings occurred – just because KKK members are Christian? I don’t think so.
But the fact that so many people got upset over the building of this Muslim community center near ground zero is a reflection of our widespread fear and dislike of the entire religion. And THAT is what leads to the type of attacks we just witnessed in Norway. We need to see Muslims for what they actually are: peaceful people. If we cannot do that, then many more innocent people will die.