Unnameable terror
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Unnameable terror

'Experts' jumped to conclusions about the perpetrators of the Norway attacks. Such laziness can be dangerous.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2011 21:33 IST
Hindustan Times

An advantage of living amid easily accessible information is that punditry is never in short supply. Even as the news of Friday's blast in the Norwegian capital Oslo and the subsequent horrific shooting at a nearby summer camp trickled in, media platforms went frenetic in their speculation about the likely perpetrators of the attack. Even where 'experts' tried to steer clear of naming names, discussions kept revolving around al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri's latest tirades, Norway's involvement in the war in Afghanistan and the 'jihadist hydra'. As it happened, the actual perpetrator turned out to be a 32-year-old farmer, blond and blue-eyed, with interests in bodybuilding, conservative politics and freemasonry.

Subsequent reports indicated that the attack - descri-bed as the worst on Norway since World War II - exhibited characteristics of far-right extremism and was likely directed against Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's liberal government. Though a somewhat scattered group in Norway, Anders Beh-ring Breivik, the apprehended attacker, could have subscribed to any of the neo-Nazi ideology-powered groups that thrive on racist and anti-Muslim sentiments and have banded closer in the wake of the economic recession. Such possibilities, however, had to manage with only a passing mention, as the media whipped up the familiar, pre-conceived fear of al-Qaeda.

As several Twitter posts pointed out, the idea of a Christian terrorist running amok in Norway would be way more disconcerting than the comfortably numb finger forever pointed at 'funny looking outsiders'. It is obvious that Norway - whose worst attack since the Nazi invasion is this supposed neo-Nazi attack - must devote time in scourging the difficult ghosts living within, and in busting the violent, venom-spewing groups, rather than only go looking for demons without.

First Published: Jul 24, 2011 21:32 IST