Killings in Norway spotlight anti-Muslim thought in U.S.

The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them….

In the document he posted online, Anders Behring Breivik, who is accused of bombing government buildings and killing scores of young people at a Labor Party camp, showed that he had closely followed the acrimonious American debate over Islam.

His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch Web site, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.

More broadly, the mass killings in Norway, with their echo of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by an antigovernment militant, have focused new attention around the world on the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists and renewed a debate over the focus of counterterrorism efforts.

Scott Shane, in the New York Times, 24 July 2011

The quotes from Spencer in Breivik’s manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence are taken from the transcript of a 2006 film, Islam: What the West Needs to Know, which so impressed Breivik that he reproduces it in its entirety.

Another prominent Islamophobe who featured in that film, and is therefore also cited numerous times in Breivik’s document, is Walid Shoebat. Recently exposed by CNN as a fraud, Shoebat has been making a good living advising police and security services in the US on counterterrorism.

The message that Shoebat has been delivering to his audiences has been the same message that so appealed to Breivik – that Islam is an inherently violent faith that provides justification for the actions of Al-Qaeda. (See here, here, here and here.)

Spencer himself has been invited to address the FBI. So we’re not talking here about some fringe subculture restricted to right-wing cranks in the blogosphere. The anti-Muslim propagandists who provided Breivik with the ideology that led him to carry out his atrocities receive official recognition in the US and are regarded as legitimate figures who can provide important insights into Islam.

Hopefully the terrible events in Norway have revealed Spencer, Shoebat and their co-thinkers as the malevolent violence-inspiring hatemongers that they really are, and in future they will be treated accordingly.

Update:  Spencer has posted a statement by SIOA and SIOE on Jihad Watch denouncing Breivik as a “disgusting neo-Nazi”. But this completely misrepresents the ideology that inspired Breivik’s terrorist acts. He quite clearly dissociates himself from neo-Nazism in his manifesto and declares himself to be a “cultural conservative” – a category in which he includes the Islamophobic bloggers and websites of the counter-jihad movement. Indeed, for Breivik, political violence is only one element in the cultural conservative strategy – he sees non-violent anti-Muslim propaganda as playing a no less vital role.