But simply sitting idle and hoping for this to occur would be living according to a false sense of an immediately re-established peace within society. As difficult as keeping one's calm upon being confronted with the mass killings of so many mostly young people both in Oslo and Utoeya, maybe what is urgently required is a profound analysis about the why, and of course the how. What's more, whilst having named the suspect and as expected, eventually sentencing him is one thing, coming to terms with what may be a much more complicated snapshot of perhaps an entire continent is an altogether more cumbersome process. What I want to say is that the Norwegian incident must be seen in a cross-border context including feeding in analysis from many other European countries as well as from Turkey.
Fanaticism not limited to Norway, not at all
Let me continue by saying that upon seeing images showing the alleged, and now charged, mass murderer released for use on television and print media by Norwegian authorities I could not help but recall an incident here in Turkey from some time ago. Nothing of that sort, heaven forbid. What I want to retell had been a simple yet extended conversation on the part of a country not necessarily known for its wholehearted support for the nation's successful modernization process.
I spoke with a woman in a local café who had aroused my interest as she was wearing designer clothes and was of a certain age (approximately 50), and if anyone ever looked out of place in this town located a few hours away from İzmir, it was her. I am neither profiling nor judging people according to appearance or clothes, and she perhaps had similar thoughts about my beachfront attire; however, what I had heard during our conversation left me in total shock. Not only did she defend a certain sector of the Turkish population as being more worthy than others (with regards to all “non-Kurdish” people, as according to her they are simply better educated) but explicitly defended that “educated” people should live in separate housing complexes, too. As it happens this seaside town has one such complex reserved for former active members of the armed forces and a few retired members of the national Parliament, sealed off from the public eye (actually, not any more thanks to Google Earth) and more or less in a state of autonomy with its own beachfront jetty, shops and security. She invited me to visit her in “her” site (gated complex) as she wanted to tell me more about how she sees Turkey and because she regarded me as “white” and hence educated, too. This was before I had mentioned to my astonished conversation partner that I write for the Zaman group. After which there was no longer a need to politely decline her invitation. You get the picture.
Fast forward to Oslo and Utoeya
The alleged and now charged and confessing suspect of the Norwegian killings looked educated, “white” and dressed in rather expensive attire. The entrance to his family's home, as shown on Norwegian television, looked perhaps not posh but definitely up market. He for sure had enough money and a lot of spare time to pursue his terror-related activities.
According to the BBC World News online version this Sunday and according to the suspect Anders Behring Breivik's lawyer, Geir Lippestad, ‘he thought it was gruesome having to commit these acts, but in his head they were necessary.'
By now it has emerged that the suspect had a history of far-right connections and had indeed published material on the web with regards to his ideas about society.
What Norway's society, similar to any other Western society, must come to terms with is that although apparently everyone happily abides by the rules that define multiculturalism, somewhere deep down there is a current which only waits for the right moment to torpedo the ship. No one knows when and no one apparently can foresee by whom. This is made even more complicated if we assume that perpetrators of crimes such as the Norwegian one live next door, have attended the same schools and eaten at the same restaurants. This type of terrorist does not attend al-Qaeda training camps in faraway places; they simply register as a “legal” gun user and buy pistols or automatic rifles and ammunition in large quantities without obstacles.
I am not saying that my conversation here in Turkey (as retold above) and the mass murderer in Norway have anything direct in common. What unites both, albeit perhaps unwittingly, is that both ask for segregation within a specific nation or country, an “all white” supremacy over any other group within that society and a segregation according to status linked to past educational achievements in a society. No college degree? Bad luck.
Why attack a party political youth camp?
I can only imagine how frightening it must be for any future youth camp organizer either in Norway or Turkey or anywhere else in Europe to move forward. We can only imagine how delicate a balancing act it must be for the Norwegian government to defend its core principles of multiculturalism in the face of such an atrocity when the nation's children have become victims to what a very small minority would say is a failed national policy.
The attacker clearly wanted to not only target the nation's prime minister but an entire generation of future leaders, too. It was not only cold-blooded murder but must have been based on the attacker's knowledge of his country's potential future leaders' loathing of hatred, segregation and a “white” only apartheid type of regime, and hence this merited them becoming his targets. He knew that his racist ideology would never become mainstream in Norway. Thus it was politically motivated, cold-blooded murder.
Racism must become a thing of the past
Some months ago I wrote another piece for this newspaper that from time to time democracy needs a bulletproof vest, too. After last weekend this comment has become unfortunately even more valid. Democracy must learn to better protect itself against seemingly harmless individuals who constantly engage in verbally sowing the seeds of hatred and segregation. By “protecting” I refer to trying to reintegrate back into society those who have strayed. It may be difficult and time consuming, but it is the only option. If not, who can guarantee that another verbal or Internet warmonger one day does not raid his neighborhood gun shop and run amok at yet another party youth camp or another city center?
Schools, teachers, parents, governments, civil society, media and, in short, everyone has a duty to spot and remedy if at all possible the first signs of inciting hatred that in a worst case scenario may turn out to be just another criminal, such as the one who caused havoc in a peace-loving and totally international society.
At the same time nation-states must as a matter of urgency, better integrate their international communities whilst never forgetting to explain to their “born and bred” citizens about the benefits of a multicultural society. When tolerance becomes less of a one-way street but a concept that brings joy and fulfillment to all segments of society, racist-inspired loners such as the killer from Norway may eventually become a thing of the past.