Norwegian police chief criticised for downplaying far-right terror threat

Activists have reacted against recent statements by a Norwegian police chief who said radical Islam remains the main threat in Norway and played down the threat of far-right terrorism, despite the attacks by a right-wing extremist that killed 77 people last summer.

The director of Norway’s Police Security Service, Janne Kristiansen, told a news conference on Tuesday that her agency would focus on dangers from home-grown Islamic extremism, even though attacks targeting Norway’s left wing have increased since the July massacre, Reuters reported.

“In recent years we have seen a development in which (Muslim) people raised in Norway become radicalized and for whom Norway and Norwegian society are the enemy,” Reuters quoted Kristiansen as saying.

Kari Partapuoli from the Norwegian Antirasistisk Senter (Center against Racism), a non-governmental organization, told Today’s Zaman that she reacted negatively to hearing that the Kristiansen is maintaining the focus on Islam. “We have only looked at extremism from Muslims. We have overlooked right-wing extremism so far. I hope we won’t make the same mistake,” she said.

Responding to critics who have said the police are neglecting the threat from right-wing militants like Anders Behring Breivik, who admitted carrying out the July 22 attacks, the head of Norway’s Police Security Service said the threat they represent is far smaller. “The number of violent right-wing extremists is still low,” she said.

Contrary to Kristiansen’s statements, Partapuoli noted that right-wing extremists have been implicated in violent attacks in Norway’s history and she criticized the Norwegian authorities for not looking at the whole picture. The Norwegian activist agreed with the police authority on one issue: The non-existence of organized terrorist groups in Norway. “There are no organized groups [participating in] any kind [of terrorism]. There are loners [who carry out the attacks],” she said.

Today’s Zaman, 17 January 2012