orwegian Anders Behring Breivik was formally charged Monday for back-to-back attacks in Norway that killed at least 93 people. Several news outlets had speculated that al Qaeda was behind the Friday bombing of a government building in downtown Oslo and shooting spree at a youth camp on the island of Utoya. But investigators say Breivik, who has confessed to the crimes, is driven not by sympathy for Islamists, but hatred of them. Here, a brief guide to the extremist, anti-Muslim tide that is rising in Norway and elsewhere in Europe:
Who is Anders Behring Breivik?
He's a 32-year-old nationalist angered by the rise of multiculturalism in Norway. In a 1,500-page manifesto posted online — under the pseudonym Andrew Berwick — hours before the attacks, he vents his rage against "cultural Marxism," Islam, and feminism in Europe. Investigators say Breivik had planned Friday's attacks for years, hoping to use them as a declaration of war against the "Islamization of Western Europe."
Is he just an isolated extremist?
No, Breivik's xenophobia is shared by extreme-right activists and politicians across the region. His anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant manifesto echoes "a sentiment you find in all European countries," said Thomas Hegghammer, of the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment in Oslo, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal. From Sweden to Italy, populist politicians have gained newfound power by lashing out against Muslim immigrants, whom they say cause crime and unemployment while rejecting Western values.
How bad is Norway's immigration problem?
Not bad at all. It welcomes far fewer immigrants than many other European countries. Though the conservative, populist Progress Party, which takes a hard line on any immigration, has doubled its membership in recent years, Norway still doesn't have a mainstream far-right political party, unlike other Scandinavian countries. And thanks in part to its oil wealth — Norway has a sovereign wealth fund worth $112,000 per citizen — Norway is one of the world's richest countries, with high wages and only 3.4 percent unemployment.
Is Breivik a member of the Progress Party?
He was, until 2007. In his manifesto, Breivik praises the Progress Party as "the only major political party in Norway that has voiced any serious opposition to the madness of Muslim immigration." (Progress Party officials harshly condemned the attacks, calling them "horrible and cowardly.") These days, Breivik says his only allegiance is as a "Justiciar Knight" in a re-founded Knights Templar group, the pan-European "Conservative Revolutionary Movements in Europe."
What did he allegedly hope to accomplish?
The manifesto says the group's purpose is to "seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda." It advocates attacks against "traitors" — the youth camp where the massacre occurred was an annual gathering of young members of the liberal Labor Party. Breivik apparently believes that people with pro-immigrant politics are helping Muslims take over Europe. Breivik's lawyer, Geir Lippestad, says his client has "admitted his guilt to the actual facts," and has called his own actions "atrocious" but "necessary." Lippestad said Breivik was going to explain further in court, but the judge held a closed-door hearing to deny him the public platform he wanted.
Sources: ABC News, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Foreign Policy, Wall St. Journal
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Why Easter is so important to Christians
- 10 things you need to know today: April 20, 2014
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- The ugly economics of chicken
- Wounded in Boston, two brothers endure
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
Subscribe to the Week