Anders Breivik is not Christian but anti-Islam

Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik's ideology is fuelled by a loathing of Muslims and 'Marxists', his writing spurred by conspiracy theories

Norway-Anders-Breivik
Norway mass murderer Anders Breivik's internet writings show him to be anti-Muslim and anti-Marxist, not a fundamentalist Christian. Photograph: Ho/Reuters

The Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who shot dead more than 90 young socialists at their summer camp on Friday after mounting a huge bomb attack on the centre of Oslo, has been described as a fundamentalist Christian. Yet he published enough of his thoughts on the internet to make it clear that even in his saner moments his ideology had nothing to do with Christianity but was based on an atavistic horror of Muslims and a loathing of "Marxists", by which he meant anyone to the left of Genghis Khan.

Two huge conspiracy theories form the gearboxes of his writing. The first is that Islam threatens the survival of Europe through what he calls "demographic Jihad". Through a combination of uncontrolled immigration and uncontrolled breeding, the Muslims, who cannot live at peace with their neighbours, are conquering Europe.

But these ideas, however crazy, are part of a widespread paranoid ideology that links the European and American far right and even elements of mainstream conservatism in Britain.

In an argument on the rightwing Norwegian site Dokument.no, Breivik wrote: "Show me a country where Muslims have lived at peace with non-Muslims without waging Jihad against the Kaffir (dhimmitude, systematic slaughter, or demographic warfare)? Can you please give me ONE single example where Muslims have been successfully assimilated? How many thousands of Europeans must die, how many hundreds of thousands of European women must be raped, millions robbed and bullied before you realise that multiculturalism and Islam cannot work?"

He obsessively posted statistics showing the growth of Muslim populations in Lebanon, Kosovo, Kashmir and even Turkey over the centuries in order to demonstrate the same process was under way in Oslo right now, as well as in other European cities.

The second is the idea that the elite have sold out to "Marxism", which controls the universities, the mainstream media, and almost all the political parties, and is bent on the destruction of western civilisation. "Europe lost the cold war as early as 1950, at the moment when we allowed Marxists/anti-nationalists to operate freely, without keeping them out of jobs where they could seize power and influence, especially teaching in schools and universities," he wrote.

These two grand conspiracies are linked by the "Eurabia" conspiracy theory, which holds that EU bureaucrats have struck a secret deal to hand over Europe to Islam in exchange for oil.

Such extreme ideas are distributed among far-right blogs in Europe and America. The American anti-Muslim agitator Robert Spencer was namechecked when Breivik listed his intellectual influences on Dokument.no, along with a pseudonymous Norwegian who calls himself Fjordman and the equally pseudonymous Bat Ye'or, who invented the Eurabia conspiracy. Spencer, along with his sidekick, Pamela Geller, was responsible for the campaign against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque". He has also been invited to speak in Sweden by the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrat party.

Fjordman, who may be several people writing under a pseudonym, is at least one Norwegian Islamophobe who has for years been predicting civil war between Muslims and their neighbours. He is sufficiently paranoid that he refused to meet Breivik, according to these papers, but their ideas overlap so much that Fjordman was briefly and wrongly suspected of being the gunman. He has also written for the Brussels Journal, a fanatically anti-EU blog where Daniel Hannan, the Conservative MEP, was on the masthead for a while.

Obviously these people cannot be held responsible for the use to which their ideas were put. No matter how deranged a killer's ideas, he still needs a deranged personality to put them into action. But anyone tempted to take them seriously should consider what were almost Breivik's last words on Document.no: "For the last three years I have been working full time on a cultural conservative work which will help to develop and market these political ideas."

That "cultural conservative work" was the PDF he mailed out as he set off on his murder spree.


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  • farofa

    24 July 2011 4:52PM

    "But why on earth did he choose to kill those kids? Anybody?"

    To frighten political opponents away from tackling the far right and to create the mayhem and hysteria amid which fascism thrives, offering as it does order or else.

  • Benito36

    24 July 2011 4:54PM

    It is not my intent to make "political points" off of this tragedy, but rather to warn people of the development of this sort of ideology, in particular within the United States (which is not to pick on the US, but is simply within my experience). The more I learn about Breivik, the more I am reminded of Christian Identity politics in the US, in particular the Tea Party, which is the political wing of the American militia movement. If you care to learn about the development of this ideology in the United States, I urge you to read "A Force upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate" by Kenneth Stern, in order to understand how an ideology of hate and militance has taken a political approach to gain legitimacy while never surrendering the potential for violence.

    As an American who remembers the Oklahoma City bombing, this Breivik reminds me of the horror inflicted on children and adults alike. I have watched developments in the US since the Oklahoma City bombing as Ultra Right terrorist elements dedicated to White Christian Ideology have transformed themselves from militants holed up in cabins in the mountains into a mainstream political force, the Tea Party. We cannot underestimate the potential for violence of the Ultra Right, to do so is dangerous. The United States has demonized the Left while ignoring and even supporting a fanatical right, and today we have Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann as the frontrunners of a terrifying ideology of barely concealed hatred and potential violence. The terror in Oslo breaks my heart, because it takes me back to the horror and senselessness of the Oklahoma City bombing, seeing dead children on TV as a Right Wing psychotic bombed a Federal building, including a daycare on the first floor.

    My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Norway and the world, as we struggle to cope with extremism of the Right, which has been brewing for decades and is yet to completely rear its head. What happens when these people have power within governments? Will we again see a rise of neo-Fascism? Can we learn from our history, and avoid a repetition of the horrors we have already seen? God help us in this era of violence.

  • nothingchanges

    24 July 2011 4:54PM

    This man was deranged, full stop. His ideology meant that his victims were on the left (or the children of people on the left, who were even more innocent than their parents). It's an awful tragedy.
    I do hope, however, that this incident does not mean that you can no longer discuss mass immigration or assimilation of foreign nationals without being branded a right-wing lunatic.

  • DamnWymz

    24 July 2011 4:54PM

    I think for a lot of people anti-Islam (or anti-anything the don't like) is a pretty good definition fo their version of Christianity. Fred Phelps anyone?

  • myfellowprisoners

    24 July 2011 4:55PM

    Andrew, I can't believe your vision is so blinkered on this.

    It's not just far right blogs and 'elements of mainstream conservatism'.

    The theories of 'Eurabia' 'Cultural Marxism', 'Islamification of Europe', 'Liberal Elites', etc, are given regular breathing space by Melanie Philips, Peter Hitchens, various writers in the Daily Telegraph and are standard memes across Fox News and mainstream conservative outlets.

    Most importantly, they are also repeated and developed upon in the comments boards for the above organisations by the readers/viewers. And, in case you hadn't noticed, on the Guardian's own CIF. By a good proportion of posters who come online to discuss these subjects.

    The stuff Brevik came out with seems not particularly 'fringe' to me. It's a standard and recognised discourse in contemporary popular conservatism and you and anyone reading this can merely google the above sources to see that this is the case. Even if you just stuck to the Guardian's own BTL comments, you would see the widespread belief if these ideas.

    Brevik was spouting the same shit as is believed by tens of millions of people in the USA and Europe. The difference is that he shot people because of the crazy shit in his head. And he won't be the last.

  • LeonardH

    24 July 2011 4:55PM

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

  • BoredSilly

    24 July 2011 4:57PM

    This is the result of all the islamophobes spewing their hatred online every day. When you spill acid it corrodes and here we see the results. The pen can be mightier than the sword and as this case shows careless talk can lead to bloodshed, I think people should be careful about the kind of crap they post online because there are idiots like this guy who will take it seriously and do something like this.

  • RevsRivaz

    24 July 2011 4:59PM

    carlospi
    24 July 2011 4:53PM
    I'm sorry but who are you (or anyone else) to say he is not a Christian?


    Moses -

    6th Commandment was pretty specific

  • andrewthomas1000

    24 July 2011 4:59PM

    To frighten political opponents away from tackling the far right and to create the mayhem and hysteria amid which fascism thrives, offering as it does order or else.

    Interesting, I think you're right. Thanks.

  • HarryHamilton

    24 July 2011 5:00PM

    You can be both a Christian and a bigot/idiot like someone mentioned with Hitler, most of those Nazis were Christians, I imagine the Crusaders as well, those in the Spanish Inquisition etc.

    And with Christianity one can interpret the bible as he/she likes so who's to say this man's interpretation of the bible is wrong? It certainly wouldn't look out of place in the Old Testiment.

    Proof that Christianity can produce arseholes just as well as Islam.

  • BoredSilly

    24 July 2011 5:04PM

    Islam, Christianity and Judaism all believe in the SAME god, they are what is known as Abrahamic religions... they all have the same god just different prophets.... It's a shame that so many Americans, Israelis and Arabs don't understand that..!!

  • wotever

    24 July 2011 5:06PM

    The media has accepted that anyone born into islam who commits terrorism is a muslim terrorist.
    But that cannot be said of those born into christianity. Of course not!

    Perhaps, what is needed is another look at the validity of the first statement?

  • RevsRivaz

    24 July 2011 5:08PM

    wotever
    24 July 2011 5:06PM
    The media has accepted that anyone born into islam who commits terrorism is a muslim terrorist.
    But that cannot be said of those born into christianity. Of course not!

    Perhaps, what is needed is another look at the validity of the first statement?

    Its that 6th Commandment thing again.

  • BeyondOurKev

    24 July 2011 5:09PM

    Every time some deranged arsehole with a weapon lets loose at a multitude of victims, we're rightly advised not to give them the publicity they crave for their acts and their crackpot philosophies; not to keep reprinting profiles and photos and speculations as to their motivations, or drone on about them on 24hour news channels, since this encourages others to believe that such acts will bring about the desired results.

    If people seek publicity by performing acts of violence, we need to deny them that publicity. We don't need to know his name, see his photo, or read his manifesto. No need to censor the information; publish it (not necessarily in a daily newspaper), but don't publicise it. A man who sought to affect public policy according to his own extreme philosophies shouldn't be indulged because he used violence in order to draw attention to them.

  • hybridartifacts

    24 July 2011 5:09PM

    I suspect a lot of the confusion about his being labelled a 'Christian Fundamentalist' comes from a mix of journalistic ignorance of what a Christian Fundamentalist actually is and a lack of understanding of the way historically fascistic groups have tried to integrate religion into their idea of nationalism and a sense of having a 'Christian culture'.

    My own feeling on this is that the most probable use of the term 'Christian' by Anders Breivik is not in the sense of being someone who follows Christian teaching or Christ, but of being someone born in a 'Christian' country and thus 'not Muslim'. Its a cultural heritage thing not a faith thing.

    I posted a few comments on this on the liveblog earlier.

    One of the key errors being made by journalists using the Christian Fundamentalist tag is that Christian Fundamentalism is an evangelical Protestant movement, yet his manifesto clearly regards the entire Protestant tradition as being incoherent and weak and argues for a strong Catholic tradition - and even there the argument actually seems not to be for a Catholic church as we currently have it, but one remodelled around ideas of Nationalism through Fascism.

    Its rather pathetic that so many journalists are prepared to use labels without knowing how their meaning is usually understood and without actually checking before they do use them. Something similar happened with the Columbine killings where the killers were labelled as 'Goths' and again, journalists really didn't have a clue what they were writing and it led to many Goths being treated badly because of it.

    When will these journalists learn not to just use the first convenient label they think up without checking first what it applies to and if it is actually relevant?

  • DamirSpica

    24 July 2011 5:10PM

    andrewthomas1000

    24 July 2011 4:47PM

    Yeah, he was just a typical far-right fascist. Would have been very happy in Hitler's Germany.

    But why on earth did he choose to kill those kids? Anybody?

    ------------------

    Because, for all that self-glorification, he is nothing but COWARD.

  • AntID

    24 July 2011 5:11PM

    6th Commandment was pretty specific

    Very funny

    What about the Egyptian first born?

    Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death.

    If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.

    Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.

    etc. etc.

  • lundiel

    24 July 2011 5:12PM

    I have spent most of today looking at his political ideology through his book and online comments, he has formed a conspiracy between ultra conservative right wing Islamists and 'Marxists' using the language of the tea party (left wing=racist etc) under the banner of Christian Conservative morality as he defined it (I agree, he is not a Christian). He seems to perceive of himself as a Viking Knights Templar inspiring an EDL type movement from the young people of Europe which will be backed by an online conservative newspaper and result in victory for the right in 20 to 70 years.

  • CruiskeenLawn

    24 July 2011 5:13PM

    I am not sure that it is at all possible at this stage to draw definitive conclusions as to the motive of the gunman.

    Certainly, deciding that it fits into a larger macro-political situation is very premature.

    Sadly, every commentator wants to use these horrific killings as a hanger they can sling their ideological jacket over.

    On the basis of the evidence, if he was driven by either anti-Islam of anti-Marxist feelings then his targets were inappropriate.

    At this stage, it would appear that the killings bear more similarities to those in Port Arthur, 1996, in Australia than any 'politically' motivated attack.

  • RevsRivaz

    24 July 2011 5:14PM

    AntID
    24 July 2011 5:11PM
    6th Commandment was pretty specific

    Very funny

    What about the Egyptian first born?

    Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death.

    If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.

    Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.

    etc. etc.


    God said, "Thou shalt not kill," but he didn't say anything about himself.

    Hey, I'm a literate atheist, I don't take the blame for that nutty book.

  • Posodas

    24 July 2011 5:14PM

    I think it's time to wake up and take seriously the threat that the far-right EDL and their comment-box army of bigoted scum that infest every part of our political discourse pose to us.

    The man who just killed 90+ people is not an isolated loony, he was a cold, calculated terrorist who is totally unrepentant. He has set himself up as a Martyr for the new, anti-muslim, european right.

    We must not have double-standards, this man is no more representative of Christianity than Bin Laden represents Islam.

  • hybridartifacts

    24 July 2011 5:16PM

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clerical_fascism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-fascism_and_religion

    Christian Fundamentalism has been described as "militantly anti-modernist Protestant evangelicalism". The Protestant part being very central to it. It's a Protestant movement within an Evangelical tradition. Yet in the manifesto the call seems to be for the end of Protestantism (its described as being too weak) in favour for a revitalised 'crusading' militant Catholicism.


    "The Pope, the ultimate knight of Christendom
    When a just and conservative Pope mounts the chair of Peter, the tide will set strongly toward Rome. We will hear of conversions on every hand. The joyful radiance of this Popes appearance among us will be seen as nothing less than a strong and just knight of Christianity. A Crusader Pope, a man who symbolises and protects the persecuted Church. This new Pope will be a defender of Christianity, and will not contribute to the annihilation of Christendom through suicidal humanism."

    Note - it isn't really 'Catholic' either - it just sees Catholicism as being the best suited to become a strong Nationalist church that can repel Islam. All that is relevant to them is the idea that the Catholic church is seen as structurally more capable of making strong demands of its adherents than Protestantism is to them.

    'Christianity' looks more like a cultural label in the manifesto, a statement of a historical region and way of life with the church as a vehicle for it. Its not religious in the sense of believing in religious doctrines, but in a more political sense of it being able to cement Nationalism.

    Also from the manifesto:

    "The contemporary definition of the Christian world view will be reformed to correlate with nationalistic doctrines, allowing the national pursuit of prosperity and allowing unlimited research and development relating to every aspect of technology and science (including all aspects of biological research, reprogenetics etc.)."

    When it speaks of any goal involving religion it says this:


    "The goal must obviously not be to create a new theocracy. Europe will still remain predominantly secular. However, the Churches primary role will be to contribute to unity by offering cultural and spiritual opportunities. The Church will once again be allowed to do what it was intended to do; to propagate and maintain cultural unity through predefined rituals and celebrations. Christendom is after all the primary factor that unites all Europeans. We should therefore strive to create a united Church through reforming it, which ends up as a Church worthy of our respect."

    From what I have seen so far I would suggest extreme caution with using the label 'Christian' and even more so 'Christian Fundamentalist' as I suspect it will muddy any actual motivation even more because he just doesn't seem to be using the term in the way most people would think he is.

  • shemarch

    24 July 2011 5:17PM

    @carlospi. Breivik is not a Christian because no follower of Christ could slaughter children. Read the gospels and see what Jesus said about the punishment due to anyone harming a child.

  • ramekins

    24 July 2011 5:18PM

    Anders Behring Breivik, (...) has been described as a fundamentalist Christian. But he published enough of his thoughts on the internet to make it clear that even in his saner moments his ideology had nothing to do with Christianity,


    Funny, from reading my history books he sounds like a Christian to me, wanting to defend his faith n'all.

    Which is not to say that the rest of these religions are not just as nasty.

  • Rouge77

    24 July 2011 5:19PM

    If the mass murderer thought of himself as a Christian and publicly identifies himself as a Christian, he is a Christian as much as all the other Christians who don't live up to the purer demands of their religion.

  • BryanHemming

    24 July 2011 5:19PM

    The Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who shot dead more than 90 young socialists at their summer camp on Friday, after mounting a huge bomb attack on the centre of Oslo, has been described as a fundamentalist Christian. But he published enough of his thoughts on the internet to make it clear that even in his saner moments his ideology had nothing to do with Christianity, but was based on an atavistic horror of Muslims and a loathing of "Marxists", by which he meant anyone to the left of Genghis Khan.

    Andrew Brown makes the sort of pointless claim many right wing Christians make. Got to distance the old religion from its nutters. I doubt he would begin an article distancing Osama bin Laden from Islam.

    Anders Behring Breivik is typical of many fundamentalist rightwing Christians with the emphasis on mental. The majority may not blow up government buildings or kill leftists and Muslims, but they do believe they are a scourge to be rid of.

    Politicians and the right wing press encourage them, particularly Murdoch's rags and TV outlets. They link the words Muslim and terrorist wherever, and whenever, they can, but take no responsibility for the potential consequences of their actions.

    But they take great care avoid linking the words Christian and terrrorist, despite the numbers of right wing Christian terrorist being on the rise.

    Politiicans and journalists must question themselves and tone down the rhetoric. If they don't we can only expect more massacres from Christian fanatics as well as Musim fanatics. Can't help thinking tha's exacty what many want.

    It can be justly claimed stations like Fox News stir up race and religious hate. Too many UK newspapers do the same.

    Anders Behring Breivik is a devout Christian get used to it.

  • shemarch

    24 July 2011 5:20PM

    @MrGreyhame. Fundamentalist 'Christians' take their religion from the Old Testament, not from the Gospels. They are the enemies of real Christians just as much as they hate everybody else.

  • Endzeit

    24 July 2011 5:20PM

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

  • RevsRivaz

    24 July 2011 5:21PM

    Rouge77
    24 July 2011 5:19PM
    If the mass murderer thought of himself as a Christian and publicly identifies himself as a Christian, he is a Christian as much as all the other Christians who don't live up to the purer demands of their religion.

    OK, but the same logic applies to all faiths.

  • Rouge77

    24 July 2011 5:21PM

    shemarch - followers of Christ have massacred children throughout the history of organized Christianity.

    They have always found a way to justify it, if nothing else, then through the massacres of the old testament, where, if you remember, the massacre of whole of Canaan except one town - whose inhabitants were only enslaved, thanks to a ruse they came up with - is shown as a good and just thing, done according to god's plan.

  • RevsRivaz

    24 July 2011 5:22PM

    shemarch
    24 July 2011 5:20PM
    @MrGreyhame. Fundamentalist 'Christians' take their religion from the Old Testament, not from the Gospels.

    Strictly speaking that makes them Jewish

  • Haveatye

    24 July 2011 5:23PM

    I'm sorry but who are you (or anyone else) to say he is not a Christian?

    A agree with you against A B's assertion that he is not a Christian, because after all what is a Christian? It's what people seem to say it is, whatever side of the Christian spectrum you fall on. The important thing is that he was a psycho. Psychos only need rationalisations. If belief is not tempered by a good dollop of doubt, it becomes intrinsically pathological. This guy is only an extreme expression of that.

  • Raffiruse

    24 July 2011 5:24PM

    Anders Behring Breivik is typical of many fundamentalist rightwing Christians with the emphasis on mental

    I dont see how you could possibly reach that conclusion, nearly everything he believes in is at odds with rightwing fundamental Christian teaching. The only thing they do share is a hatred of Muslims and the left but that is true of most right wing thinking.

  • KendoNagasaki

    24 July 2011 5:24PM

    Let's pretend for a moment that I wasn't brought up in a Christian country, and that I don't really know what Christian is or purports to be.

    I'd have to say that this Christian fundamentalist is an absolute nutter, and just because you or other people claiming to be moderate Christians say this has nothing to do with being Christian won't really make me feel less uneasy the next time I see somebody get on the bus wearing a cross, or that Christianity isn't just another way of saying anti-Muslim.

    For the hard of thinking, please swap the word Christian in the above for Islamic, cross for beard, and anti-Muslim for anti-Western.

  • jferdy5

    24 July 2011 5:24PM

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

  • SergueiP

    24 July 2011 5:26PM

    He described himself as a Christian, but what exactly the idea that he is "fundamental Christian" came from? As far as I know he is planning to tell everything on Monday in court but at this moment we don't even know if his explanation of his deeds includes Christianity at all.

    By the way - there is nothing wrong in been anti-Muslim (or anti-Christian), as religion is not a race, it is an ideology, it is something that person can change.
    Dislike of a particular ideology is normal.

  • ramekins

    24 July 2011 5:26PM

    M

    y own feeling on this is that the most probable use of the term 'Christian' by Anders Breivik is not in the sense of being someone who follows Christian teaching or Christ, but of being someone born in a 'Christian' country and thus 'not Muslim'. Its a cultural heritage thing not a faith thing.

    You mean he's just like the CofE, Cameron, Brown and Blair etc , who endlessly say we have a 'Christian heritage' in this country, so we need faith schools to inculcate the 'ethos' in our children?

    OR

    the pope who ran a campaign to get our 'Christian heritage and ethos' consolidated into law in the Lisbon Treaty on the EU?

  • AntID

    24 July 2011 5:27PM

    God said, "Thou shalt not kill," but he didn't say anything about himself.

    He told people to kill other people, rape them, enslave them etc, over and over again.

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