No lone wolf

ANDERS BEHRING Breivik is now in court in Norway facing charges for the murder of 77 people last year and he is making the most of his moment in front of the cameras of the world. He began by giving a weird salute, like something a schoolboy fantasist might invent but it was a clear message to his friends and supporters.

He knows he will be found guilty; it is a show trial with a foregone conclusion. The prosecution does not need to give names a details of each of his victims — including those who survived but carry wounds that will impair the rest of their lives. A quick trial naming only a few victims would secure the same conviction.

But the bereaved families and survivors, who carry wounds that will impair the rest of their lives, need their loss recognised and recorded by the court.

Breivik also refused to recognise the authority of the court and claimed he had committed his murders in self-defence — fighting a “crusade” against the “Islamification” of western Europe. And the tragedy is that there are others like him out there — in Norway, in Britain, in America and all parts of the western world who, in private, will be cheering him. And he knows it.

The demonisation if Islam is very much akin to the rampant anti-Semitism in Germany and eastern Europe in the 1920s and 30s. It is fed by the right-wing tabloid press and governments that demonise leaders of Middle Eastern and Balkan countries that Nato wants to invade: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran. And there is Palestine, which the West and Israel are trying to extinguish from the map and from the historical record.

Western hate propaganda behaves in contradictory ways — it encourages and arms the most extreme and violent fringes of Islam by supporting Al Qaeda, the Taliban and elements of the Muslim Brotherhood to undermine progressive governments and at the same time uses their image as violent and intolerant bigots to tarnish all Muslims.

It is a mistake to conflate the neo-Nazism of Breivik, his friends in the English Defence League, in the rest of Europe and America, with the extremist Muslims and see them as two sides of the same coin and to see a moral equivalence in their actions.

To see clearly we need to take religion out of the picture and see it from a class point of view. The people of the Middle East, regardless of their religion, have a long litany of justified grievances against western imperialism going back to the First World War and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Already at that time the value of oil was evident and the Middle East was known to contain vast reserves. The western imperialists carved the area up to their advantage, imposing “kings” and borders where Arab culture had needed none. Since then there has been a succession of bloody interventions by the West — progressive leaders like Mossadeq removed, tyrannical monarchies imposed as in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iran and of course Israel created as western imperialism’s fortress and cat’s paw in the region.

Most ordinary people from the Middle East, even the ones who have come as immigrants to live in Europe, are angry and resentful at western interventions in their homelands — and even more frustrated that so few of us are aware of this history and do not understand the cause of their resentment.

But most do not hate us; they just want to live quietly and peacefully and do the best they can for their children and are living and working alongside us as part of the working class.

The neo-Nazis like Breivik and his colleagues are another matter. They are not just racists; they are anti-working class and even anti-bourgeois democracy. They are proven dangerous terrorists with no compunction and remorse and there are small groups of them in every European country and in the United States.

We must ask ourselves why our bourgeois state is very quick to suspect anyone from the Middle East (15 years ago it was Ireland) as a terrorist but will not recognise these neo-Nazi groups as terrorists? The answer must be that they serve a useful purpose for the state; that the Islamophobia they promote serves to divide the working class diverts attention from the real causes of unemployment, homelessness and plummeting working class living standards. The real cause is of course capitalism.