Rooshanie Ejaz, HRS
Once it was evident that our friends residing in Oslo were safe and far away from it, the second wave of grim realization took over: even Norway is not safe any longer. I am not naïve: I understand that violence and crime occur in all societies owing to the human condition. I was just used to the idea that there is more violence in some societies than in others.
As I did not have access to any news outlets, I admit that my mind went to those who I thought to be the most probable culprits. I don’t think I even need to say it. Is there something racist about that? Am I a Muslim-hating Muslim? A Muslim Islamophobe? No. I had no facts in front of me, I had nothing to go on other than “government buildings have been bombed in Oslo” (I wasn’t yet aware of the Utøya massacre), so I immediately assumed it was an Islamist terrorist attack.
Once I was in front of the television, the horror on Utøya had begun to unravel. The scroll on the bottom of the BBC screen said that the bomb was detonated at the Norwegian Labor Party building during a time when most employees were on holiday. Now the facts were clearer and I thought: that does not seem like a typical Islamist bombing.
Over the next few hours the reality began to come into focus: an ethnic Norwegian had run rampant with an automatic weapon on an island where a political summer camp for young people was taking place. A man, tall and blonde, had killed teenagers indiscriminately. The death toll kept on climbing; once it reached an unbelievable 82 (which would later be scaled back), my mind reeled as I sought to take in this horrible tragedy.
On my Facebook feed, some ridiculous status updates upset me further. “Thank God he is not a Muslim,” or “if he was a Muslim then they [news agencies] would have called this a terrorist attack, but biased Western media are calling him a murderer, how unfair!”
Apparently, political correctness is more important than understanding the pain and grief one lunatic terrorist has managed to cause so many families and people. This most insensitive display of reactions only goes to show that maybe to some people, human life does not mean so much in this world anymore. Otherwise, why would people be more concerned about the usage of the term “terrorist” than the actual atrocity that has taken place?
They believe that other people’s lives should be sacrificed for their cause and that their actions are justified. It is a well-known fact that terrorist attacks may occur in any society and are the work of twisted individuals, all of whom have similar extremist beliefs.
In fact, the perpetrators of such crimes against humanity always identify themselves with an ideology – and they always represent a tiny fraction of those who share that ideology. If as Muslims we take offense to being generalized, it is important not to accuse conservative politicians and critics of Islam of being the driving force behind Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre. It is likely that he is a psychopath, as most terrorists probably are. The critics of Islam did not incite him; he would most definitely have found any reason to do what he did.
I also came across some forums on the Internet in which the discussions took another form of vulgarity. Some people out there are of the opinion that though his actions were regrettable, “poor” Breivik was forced to do what he did because of the presence of Muslims in his country. This notion is as ridiculous as the other one, as this is exactly the same way that Islamist terrorists justify their actions – in other words, they say that because atrocities are carried out against some Muslims in the world, it is necessary to commit indiscriminate acts of terror in order to bring attention to the issue.
Human life and secure societies which provide equal rights, protection, and justice to all, regardless of race or religion, are more precious than any single religion, ideology, or way of life. The problem is not whether the correct term was used to describe this fanatic. The problem is that Anders Behring Breivik and all those before him who have carried out similar atrocities do not believe in this most basic of human principles.
My prayers and most heartfelt condolences go out to the families of the victims.