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Then there are a few anti-Islamic activists belonging to groups that range from the right to the really, really far right: Vidar Kleppe, founder of a party called the Democrats; Arne Tumyr, head of Stop the Islamization of Norway (SIAN); Ronny Alte of the Norwegian Defense League; and Tore Tvedt of the neo-Nazi group Vigrid.
But the list is dominated by writers – specifically, writers who have been publicly critical of Islam. The pseudonymous “Fjordman,” many of whose articles Breivik included in his so-called “manifesto.” Walid al-Kubaisi, a Norwegian-Iraqi author with a website called Enlightened Muslims. Contributors to each of the major blogs in Norway that discuss Islam from a critical perspective: Rita Karlsen of Human Rights Service, Ole Jørgen Arnfindsen of Honest Thinking, Hans Rustad of document.no.
And, oh yes, moi.
Why this particular selection of witnesses? As Wivel put it, summoning us Islam critics will allow Breivik’s lawyers to “hold a kind of alternative trial in the courtroom in which they will seek to prove that the war against Islam in which he sees himself as the leading knight is an extension of the ideas of Islam critics – both moderate and more extreme.” Morten Kinander of Civita, a non-socialist think tank in Norway, told Wivel that Breivik “will try to make the Right the moral accomplice in his act.”
And why will Hylland Eriksen & co. be there? “To support,” in Wivel’s words, “Breivik’s argument that he is just one of several Islam-haters.” These writers, Wivel explained, “will be indirectly under indictment in the courtroom – charge with their opinions, not their actions, by both opinion leaders on the Left and the mass murderer himself.”
“The implied charge,” Kinander told Wivel, “is that there is a connection between Islam critics’ statements and Breivik’s deed.” But Kinander rejected this: was the Left ever held liable in a courtroom for the terrorist violence of groups like Baader-Meinhof? “I am appalled to see the courtroom misused as a political platform,” said Kinander. “It becomes a circus.”
A piece that appeared last week in the Huffington Post basically confirmed Wivel’s and Kinander’s reading of the defense strategy: “Breivik’s lawyers said before Easter they plan to call radical Islamists and right-wing extremists to testify during the trial in an attempt to show that there are other people who share his world view.” The head defense lawyer “said the point is to prove that there is a narrow group of like-minded people who ‘look at things the same way [as Breivik], who are of the opinion that we are in war, the Muslim and the Christian world.’”
The anti-anti-Islamism crowd in Norway, in short, would seem to have hit the jackpot. Other countries have put critics of Islam on trial, one at a time. But now pretty much every prominent critic of Islam in Norway will be ushered into an Oslo courtroom, presumably to account for their views on Islam, the absurd pretext being that their testimony will contribute in some way to the defense of a mass murderer whose guilt has already been established beyond all doubt. The brilliant, and ironic, thing here is that the goal of the defense – and of the defendant, who apparently made up the list of witnesses himself – is utterly identical with the goal of the country’s leftist cultural elite: namely, to implicate all of us writers in Breivik’s actions. Of course, Breivik wants to do this in order to mitigate his own guilt in the eyes of the court and the country; the cultural elite wants to do it in order to discredit forever the criticism of Islam.
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