From Pamela Geller to Anders Behring Breivik — how Islamophobia turned deadly in Norway

When terrorism has a white face it invariably gets marginalized in the popular narrative. The lone wolf, the outsider, the sociopath — in many cases these portraits of misanthropic, isolated individuals who turn to violence are quite accurate.

The Oslo killings, however, should be seen in a different light since there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that the perpetrator of this atrocity, even if it turns out he was acting alone, was very much part of a political movement — a movement whose leading ideologues regularly appear on Fox News and have high public profiles.

Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old Norwegian man widely assumed to be responsible for the mass murder that took place in Oslo yesterday, is being referred to as a Christian fundamentalist in many press reports.

His comments appearing on the political website suggest however that this is a rather misleading description. His views, as revealed there, are ideological rather than religious with his preeminent focus being his opposition to multiculturalism. (Quotations of Breivik appearing below come from a translation provided by Doug Saunders.)

In the United States, one of the most prominent public faces of the movement to which Breivik belongs is that of the notorious right-wing, pro-Israel, Islamophobic blogger, Pamela Geller, whose principal mouthpiece is Atlas Shrugs.

The poster below shows a recent event which she backed, along with Robert Spencer who operates Jihad Watch.

The World War Two iconography they employ — battleships, tanks and squadrons of bombers — makes it clear that they regard their campaign against “Islamization” as a kind of war. One of the battles in that war played out in Oslo yesterday.

Breivik, who probably sees himself as one of SIOE’s “freedom fighters,” describes himself as a cultural conservative and anti-Marxist liberal. In his comments at, he says little about his religious beliefs and seems to see his Christian identity primarily as a cultural identity. He writes:

I myself am a Protestant and baptized / confirmed to me by my own free will when I was 15

But today’s Protestant church is a joke. Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like the minimalist shopping centers. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic. In the meantime, I vote for the most conservative candidates in church elections.

The only thing that can save the Protestant church is to go back to basics.

Breivik is much more specific in identifying the sources from whom he takes his own ideological direction: Robert Spencer, Fjordman, Atlas [Pamela Geller], Analekta [Informatics], Gates of Vienna, The Brussels Journal, and The Religion of Peace.

These are the preeminent voices promoting fear and hatred of Islam across Europe and America. But they also form — at least in Breivik’s mind — the “epicenter” of “political analysis” on the threat posed to cultural conservatives by multiculturalism in Europe and America. He recommends Fjordman’s book, “Defeating Eurabia,” as “the perfect Christmas gift for family and friends.”

Do any of the leaders of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and Stop Islamization of Europe (SIOE) advocate that their “freedom fighters” should adopt violent tactics such as those employed by Breivik? Perhaps not. Indeed, I have little doubt that in the coming days we will hear many vociferous disavowals of their having any association with the Norwegian. But have no doubt, while they might have a sincere revulsion for Breivik’s actions, they cannot so easily disassociate themselves from the ideas that drove him to murder almost a hundred innocent people.

Two years ago, Breivik called on fellow Norwegians to form a youth action group “that represents our ideological platform (anti-racist but critical of multiculturalism / Islamization etc).” He saw the group developing as part of Stop Islamization of Europe or as a new group that would model itself on SIOE and the English Defense League.

“For me it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists differ[ently]. They are all supporters of hate-ideologies,” Breivik writes. There is a whiff of the Bush doctrine here — that we should not differentiate between terrorists and those who harbor them. There’s also a hint of Bin Laden’s idea of the near enemy and the far enemy.

Breivik argues that cultural conservatives should not identify their main opponents as Jihadists, but instead should focus their attention on those he regards as the “facilitators” of Jihadists, namely, the proponents of multiculturalism. Hence his vehement opposition to Norway’s Labour Party and its leader, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Those in the anti-Islam movement who now want to distance themselves from Breivik will proclaim that they are opponents of hatred and maybe that’s true — but that’s how he sees himself too: as a man dedicating his life to combating the “hate ideologies.”

As the last decade has demonstrated, whether it’s on the level of governments or individuals, those who take up a banner in the name of a crusade against hatred have a surprising willingness to employ violence in pursuit of that goal.

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32 thoughts on “From Pamela Geller to Anders Behring Breivik — how Islamophobia turned deadly in Norway

  1. DE Teodoru

    And the depth of Geller’s involvement do not become clear unless one goes back to the old days of the JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE. But I would say that almost all Libertarians are for FREEDOM and certainly oppose Geller&Co. As in Europe, SOME Muslims have totally changed our personal lives for the worst. But then think of how miserable the lives of Muslims have been made in our names. It’s time to paraphrase the NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION and say, real loud: IT’S NOT ISLAM THAT IS DANGEROUS BUT ONLY A FEW CRAZY MUSLIMS….As we see from Oslo, any number can play BOOM and one need not be a Muslim. In fact, they are late comers here for those who remember the Una-bomber and the other killers that preceded them.

  2. pessoptimistic

    You say: “he says little about his religious beliefs and seems to see his Christian identity primarily as a cultural identity.”

    I bet you would never ever write:

    “he says little about his religious beliefs and seems to see his Muslim identity primarily as a cultural identity.”

    Because you would not be able to make that distinction, were he a Muslim, but here you are able to do so because you belong to the mainstream “Christian” culture.

  3. Colm O' Toole

    Glenn Greenwald has a good piece on the topic as well. Good quote:

    “Will tall, blond, Nordic-looking males now receive extra scrutiny at airports and other locales, and will those having any involvement with those right-wing, Muslim-hating groups be secretly placed on no-fly lists?”

    I think the real stunner in Woodward’s piece is the quote from Anders Behring Breivik himself, “For me it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists differ[ently]. They are all supporters of hate-ideologies”.

    Imagine the cognitive dissonance at work in his mind. Here is a person who executed close to 80 people (mostly teenagers) due to his far-right ethnic nationalism calling “Muslims, Nazis and Marxists supporters of hate-ideologies”. It bowls me over that a person capable of shooting 80 people would call out others for having “hate-ideologies”.

  4. David

    Given the scale of Breivik’s slaughter of innocents along with his perversion of Christianity and pathological hatred of Islam, will governments of the world be consistent with their reactions to acts of terror by Muslims and institute strict surveillance of Christians, especially blonde, blued-eyed ones? Will they be arrested, harassed and imprisoned and also subjected to strict procedures before they can board an airplane?

  5. Basque

    I don’t find it useful to talk about “a few crazy Muslims.” For one thing, you’d have to also mention the “few crazy Christians” and few crazy whatever else. But most importantly, reducing terrorism to the work of “crazy” people strips it of ideology and misses the point. It’s doing the same thing that this article is cautioning us against doing with this guy.

    My point is terrorism is complicated. It comes from a combination of extreme ideology and something that usually gets defined as “craziness,” although that’s a very vague and useless term.

    The problem with the hatemongers on Fox News is that they don’t distinguish between the religion (which 1.57 billion people around the world are part of) and the much more specific and far less widespread ideology within it that leads to terrorism. The terrorists aren’t just “crazy Muslims.” They’re the people in that second (and relatively tiny) group.

  6. Madame Hardy

    Geller is already fleeing away from Behrik as fast as her feets can take her. Both SIOA and SIOE disavow him, rest assured.

    Hatred is A-Ok, but violence was clearly never intended, because violence never follows from hatred.

  7. Raool

    GW Bush invaded Iraq, killed and injured over a million Iraqis and completely destroyed its infrastructural because his fundamentalist christian god told him so. Did anyone blink? No. We even reelected him again. Why? because he was killing Moslems. Since after he left, many in his party have advocated hate and death. Yesterday a Christian Terrorist finally granted their wish. Maybe Anders Behring Breivik should run for president.

  8. baha

    It is absurd that some people had really got their brain washed believing that Islam is manifesting terror against western countries. Even Bin ladin, Alqaeda and Taliban whom were unpolished American tool during cold war, were and are not standing neither for Islam or Muslims. Bin ladins agenda was anti royal Saudi who are guarded by American administration in decades for a well known reason which is oil. Frankly, the only threat from Islam particularly against the western
    countries is that “the interest is forbidden in Islam”. So, the million dollar question is “how the global economy would be without interest?” the capitalism will collapse….. the end of the world for some isn’t!!. And who was the first
    people kind had invented the interest??? JEWES. In Islam you do not win money you have to earn money poor or rich. However, there no ethics in politics contra religions and with politics people will live to the end of the world caused by a renewable cold war.

  9. FreeSpeech

    Talking of ideas in teh context of Spencer et al., I wonder what ideas are promoted by the Quran and its promoters.

  10. FreeSpeech

    Or, the other way round: Can the author of this article show me where Spencer et alii advocated violence?

  11. Observer

    Gilad Atzmon really has the bravest, most urgent, most audacious and perhaps the most insightful take on the whole affair — it’s a must read from Gilad. What has been edited out of, and supressed in ALL the mainstream press, Gilad has laid bare :

    And Gordon Duff also has a few very interesting points to make ( although his narrative and prose style is rushed and a little jumbled here )

  12. Enrique Ferro

    And then we should take into account the useful idiots who are manipulated by secret services …
    Is it telling that Norway was disengaging from its military involvement especially in Libya?
    There are many ways of passing messages. Remember Gladio!

  13. Colm O' Toole

    Zero Hedge have just posted up a .pdf of Breivik’s 1500 page “manifesto” that took him 3 years to write. Had a quick look at it.

    It has chapters like “European Slaves, Arab Masters”, “Palestine for the Syrians?”, “What is the cause of Low Birth Rates”, “The Anti-Racist Witchhunts” and my own personal favourite “Green is the New Red – Stop Enviro-Communism”

    From what I gathered he wants to create a Christian army called “The New Knighthood” run by the knights templar which will fight for European independence from multiculturalism. I noticed in the small bit that I read that he included quotes by Neo-Con “scholar” Daniel Pipes regarding the “Islamist-Marxist axis”.

  14. ernie yacub

    why is terrorism reserved for lone gunmen and rebels, but not, as suggested above, for the perpetrators of state terrorism, as in palestine, libya, afghanistan, yement, haiti, bahrain, egypt, tunisia – the list is very very long.

  15. Ben10

    European Media
    The situation in Norway is tragic and my deepest sympathies go out to those in mourning.

    The larger question revolves around the virulent growth of anti-muslim sentiment throughout europe and north america which the majority of the media are directly complicit in.
    I can’t help but feel this hateful rhetoric has been given tacit approval by large swathes of the conservative and social democratic political classes as a useful tool in bolstering support for western interventions in Iraq, Afganistan and now Libya (which are in fact deeply unpopular in a majority of european countries). Conflating Islam with tyranny (even if it’s western backed) or terror (not state terror though!) provides a useful means of justifying foreign policy in the minds of the public.

    Being an Islamophobe in much of europe is not something people are, by in large, particularly ashamed of. Rather then simply condem an act of violence, it seems easier for the Right to denigrate a culture, belief (even if it’s a widely held belief outside of that culture), or even dress as a way of seeking to degrade people who share that culture, belief or dress.

    It’s telling then that the Right has been quick to disassociate itself from Breivk, it’s own repudiated violence, as if they themselves were not an integral part of it’s inner formation. That violence has come home to roost, tragically on left leaning children at a camp in norway, is also depressingly unsuprising.

  16. InMyHumbleEtc

    There is clear culpability on the part of those who have spent the last few years hyping up the idea that there is some sort of existential battle between Islam and the West. I posted yesterday on the links between Breivik’s postings on and the debate on Islam/immigration in the UK –

  17. Franklin Bash

    What a joke nobody will ever put white /Christians in the same frame work as Muslim. I think that its a mistake not to & look at it. Terror knows no bounds as seem in Oklahoma City & now in Oslo. R.I.P

  18. Yelimaz Jawid

    Quran does not allow killing. It is Politics using religion. Muslims greeting is ( PEACE ) and people in Muslim countries ruled by Dictators or Kings who keep those countries undeveloped. Those rulers do what the Bigger Powers in the world ask them to do in order they maitain their contiuity in power. Muslim countries rulers are not friendly to each other, for example, Iraq and Syria, Pakistan and Afghanstan, Kuwait and Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. We have to be more knowledgeable to recognize who is behind all those crimes committed in the name of Islam and who is the beneficiary. For sure the muslim people cannot be considered guilty for crimes committed by others.

  19. Robert

    Well let me be the first to not “Disassociate” myself from the Breivik. I think in large part is US. ALL of us. He was YOU when America was under Republican control, he is US under Obama. The reason we are where we are which is on the throws of violent uprising over ideology is the lack of respect that is shown to our leaders. Back in the days of most of our parents it was unheard of to treat Presidents the way Bush and Obama have been treated.

    Clinton was the last president that enjoyed somewhat civil criticism from the masses. Bush on the other hand from the moment of his inauguration until his departure the left used some of the most vile verbal and written word attacks any POTUS had to endure. Now Obama is enduring the very same treatment and the next POTUS will probably have worse.

    The attack was murder plain and simple. It was because this man was fed up that his nation was being stolen from him. He felt he had to do something and he did. He was responsible for his actions but he had help. His Government was complicit in it by disarming it’s citizens. YES Gun Control rears it’s head again. Now the attacker did something different. He wore a cop uniform, which would give him surprise on a group of people. BUT he had the only firearm on that island and it was AN ILLEGAL gun. He attacked an ideological camp. He went after his political opponents. I would never want to see that here in the states that’s why I FIGHT FOR OUR 2nd AMENDMENT RIGHTS FOR ALL. We (Conservatives and Liberals) should have common ground. There’s crazies out there on both sides difference is I WANT YOU to be able to protect yourselves from us evil conservatives 🙂

  20. tadzio

    This man should be killed. Nothing else can claim to be just.

    Perhaps, however, he got some inspiration from how Washington treats terrorists.

    Bill Ayres is admitted terrorist murderer who got off on a technicality. He is a pal of President Obama and reputedly ghosted his first book. He sits on prestigious boards and is associated mainstream institutions. He has an impact on shaping American education. He is a terrorist murderer who should be shunned by decent people.

    Bibi Netanyahu sponsored a two day celebration of the infamous terrorist attack on the King David Hotel. He erected a plaque to murderers. Is he shunned by decent people? Members of Congress could not applaud this terrorist supporting madman enough. How many times did they jump to their feet applauding him? He should never have been invited to speak and should have been barred entry to this country whatever his position.

    There is a moral hazard to way Washington treats promoters of terrorism like Ayres and Netanyahu. It encourages others. Official Washington abets the likes of Breivik and must bear some, though distant, responsibility for the heinous event in Norway.

  21. Gunnar Thorell

    As far as I know of Bill Ayres did not kill anyone. Should not be called a murderer.

  22. tadzio

    Bill Ayres has not been forthcoming in his role in various terrorist cells, some of which did cause deaths. Conspirators can be considered guilty of crimes as well as those actually doing the deed. To this day he is unrepentant. This is not a court of law. Feel free to consider him angelic though it is noted that you hedge with “As far as I know…”

  23. wri7913

    Jihadwatch – is Robert Spencer’s website. You are more then welcome to go judge for yourself if Robert Spencer has advocated violence against Muslims. You will see that this article is nothing more than a hit piece like the one before it (when Loughner killed people and the media tried to pin the blame on Conservatives even though he was a rabid lefty.)

    Atlas shrugs – Again, you are more than welcome to go to her site and see if she has advocated violence against Muslims. To the contrary she is responsible for setting up Aqsa Parvez Grove in American Independence Park in Jerusalem, Israel. This grove is to bring attention to the victims of Honor Killings, victims whose crimes include being too “western” or choosing to date a non-muslim. She has also setup a network for Muslims who want to leave Islam or women who feel their life is being threatened with honor killing. She has had to sue the Leftists just to put signs up on Buses.

  24. wri7913

    @Ebu Suud – If you are going to claim that Robert Spencer is promoting violence because of one Roland Shirk article, then we could make the same claim about President Obama. Pres. Obama attended the same church as one William Ayers, who during the 60’s and 70’s boasts that he “participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972.” Pres. Obama’s connections to William Ayers is even more insidious than one article on a website. Pres. Obama sat listening to this terrorist for 20 years!

    Should we now call for Pres. Obama’s removal from office based on his ties to Terrorist William Ayers?

    Can your hypocrisy be even more clear?

  25. wri7913

    Yelimaz Jawid July 24, 2011 at 11:50 pm
    Quran does not allow killing. It is Politics using religion.
    Apparently many Muslims are misunderstanders of Islam then. There have been 17,000+ terrorist actions by Muslims in the name of Islam since 9/11. Its hard to overcome that. Maybe you should get on it and explain to your fellow bretheren that they are wrong to kill in the name of Islam. Go to center square in Saudi Arabia, Iran or Egypt and come back and let us know how that went.

  26. 5ds

    he may have called himself a christian. in reality he is solely a zionist. the two are opposites.

    his violence was in support of israel not his culture, not his alleged religious beliefs

  27. Iamme

    Making a very good point. For a “lone wolf”, he certainly didn’t offer too many original ideas. Mostly he stuck pretty close to an already well polished ideology.

    Calling Brehvik a lone wolf is our own collective cognitive dissonance. We don’t want to believe there’s really no difference between “us” and “them”.

  28. Iamme

    Yes Mr. Gun Nut, if only everyone was armed to the teeth. Then the whole thing could have been avoided… just like at Fort Hood in Texas.

    Oh right…. that wasn’t avoided.

  29. Saladin

    Islam still wants to destroy Christanity and the West. No amount of denial will ever change that. Islam is a religion of terror and murder and the Holy Quran is a terrorist traing manual.

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