Writing in the Palestine Chronicle Yuri Avnery notes the rising tide of Islamophobia in Europe which provided the context and inspiration for Breivik’s terrorist attacks:
I first became aware of the gravity of the situation when a friend drew my attention to some German anti-Islamic blogs.
I was shocked to the core. These outpourings are almost verbatim copies of the diatribes of Joseph Goebbels. The same rabble-rousing slogans. The same base allegations. The same demonization. With one little difference: instead of Jews, this time it is Arabs who are undermining Western Civilization, seducing Christian maids, plotting to dominate the world. The Protocols of the Elders of Mecca….
Many of the Islamophobic parties and groups remind one of the atmosphere of Germany in the early 1920s, when “völkisch” groups and militias were spreading their hateful poison, and an army spy called Adolf Hitler was earning his first laurels as an anti-Semitic orator. They looked unimportant, marginal, even crazy. Many laughed at this man Hitler, the Chaplinesque mustachioed clown.
But the abortive Nazi putsch of 1923 was followed by 1933, when the Nazis took power, and 1939, when Hitler started World War II, and 1942, when the gas chambers were brought into operation.
It is the beginnings which are critical, when political opportunists realize that arousing fear and hatred is the easiest way to fortune and power, when social misfits become nationalist and religious fanatics, when attacking helpless minorities becomes acceptable as legitimate politics, when funny little men turn into monsters.