23 July 2011

According to the latest news reports, Norwegian police have said that Friday’s cowardly and disgusting attacks in Norway that killed at least 80 people were carried out by a right-wing Norwegian terrorist called Anders Behring Breivik.  Early evidence suggests that Brievik was influenced by a range of extremist anti-Muslim websites such as ‘Gates of Vienna’ and far-right  commentators including Geert Wilders and others who routinely promote conspiracy theories towards Muslims, immigration, multiculturalism and the Left.
James Brandon, Quilliam’s head of research, said:
‘The terrible events in Norway show that extremism, violence and terrorism are not confined to any one race or religion. There are extremists in all communities and all societies. Often at the root of such extremism is an irrational hatred of others, a blind acceptance of conspiracy theories and a web of simplistic but ultimately false narratives and ideologies. All too often, as events in Norway show, this toxic combination can lead to the de-humanisation of other human beings and to the use of violence against the innocent.
‘Extremism and intolerance – regardless of whether it comes from far-right nationalists or far-right Islamists – is a threat to us all. The only lasting cure for such violence is to challenge the ideas and attitudes that underpin it. We must be less tolerant of intolerance and the promotion of hatred, wherever it comes from. In addition, we must create shared civil society challenges to such extremism, ideally through uniting Muslims and non-Muslim in common cause against all forms of extremism.
‘While the main terrorist threat to democratic societies around the world still comes from Islamist extremists, the horrific events in Norway are a reminder that white far-right extremism is also a major and possibly growing threat. While governments must maintain their focus on the Islamist threat they must also clearly pay greater attention to extremist groups on the right. In particular governments should be aware that Breivik seems to have partly radicalised himself online. Radical right-wing and anti-Muslim websites and those who post on them clearly merit much greater scrutiny in future.’
Further information:
1.       Quilliam has recently been involved with Google Ideas and the Council of Foreign Relations to set up the ‘Summit Against Violent Extremism’, a civil society initiative that aims to tackle far-right, Islamist, criminal and religious extremism among young people around the world and to show how all forms of extremism should be tackled equally (to view press-coverage, see The Economist and Frank Gardner’s article for the BBC).
2.       For several years Quilliam has additionally been challenging anti-Muslim extremists such as Geert Wilders and Robert Spencer as well as far-right parties such as the British National Party (BNP). For instance, in 2009, Quilliam challenged Geert Wilders to a public debate (Wilder’s representatives refused) while, also in 2009, Quilliam produced and widely circulated a report that analysed and refuted the BNP’s main allegations against Muslims. Quilliam has also trained local government officials on how to recognise and tackle far-right extremism, and has strongly supported British government initiatives to do more to tackle far-right and anti-Muslim extremism in the UK.
3.       Quilliam’s executive director Maajid Nawaz recently spoke at TED Global about how civil society groups can create a ‘global culture to fight extremism’, including both far-right and Islamist extremism. This can be watched online here:


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