Norway attacks: Writer quoted by gunman hits back

Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips takes exception to 'suggestion' on blogs that her writings might have influenced Anders Behring Breivik's actions

Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips is angry about the link between her columns and the Norway attacks. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Anders Behring Breivik's purported manifesto, a lengthy anti-Muslim tirade published on the internet on the day of the Norway attacks and entitled A European Declaration of Independence, drew on numerous published sources, carefully annotated at the end of each chapter.

In an apparent attempt to give respectable intellectual underpinning to his extremist views, Breivik quoted, among others, Winston Churchill, Bernard Lewis, Edmund Burke, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, John Locke, George Orwell, Roger Scruton and Frank Field.

One of Breivik's sources, conservative Daily Mail columnist and blogger Melanie Phillips, has taken strong exception to references and quotations in the manifesto from two of her Daily Mail columns, and what she claims is a suggestion on Twitter and by fellow bloggers that somehow her writings may have influenced Breivik's actions.

"A concerned reader has sent me a post by Sunny Hundal on the Liberal Conspiracy blog," Phillips wrote. "Hundal brings us what he clearly considers to be the most important news about the Norwegian atrocity. This is that, in the 'manifesto' reportedly published by the terrorist suspect Anders Behring Breivik, two of my articles are quoted.

"Golly. Is Hundal suggesting that my writing provoked the mass murder of some 93 Norwegians? Doubtless with one eye on the law of libel, he piously avers: 'There is no suggestion that his actions were inspired by Melanie Phillips, nor am I making that claim'." She goes on to complain that Hundal's blog "gives the impression that I play a major role in this supposed manifesto.

"In fact, there are only two references to me or my work in its 1,500 pages … Why has he singled me out in this way? It looks like yet another crude attempt to smear me. … The supposed beliefs of Norway massacre's perpetrator has got the left in general wetting itself in delirium at this apparently heaven-sent opportunity to take down those who fight for life, liberty and western civilisation against those who would destroy it.

"On Twitter and the net and in the liberal media, the forces of spite, malice and venom have been unleashed in a terrifying display of irrationality."

Breivik's manifesto also cites an article by Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear presenter and Sunday Times columnist, about the flag of St George, stating: "This is the only country in the world where the national flag is deemed offensive." Praising Clarkson's Top Gear performances, Breivik adds: "Discrediting national flags as signs of 'bigotry' is happening all over the western world."

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