Norway Attacks And Multiculturalism In Europe

Guests

Teri Schultz, reporting for NPR from Oslo
Terje Korsnes, honorary consul for Norway in Massachusetts

The man who confessed to coordinated terror attacks that killed nearly 80 people in Norway on Friday was arraigned in court Monday, in a closed hearing. Anders Behring Breivik pleaded not guilty and claimed that he was trying to save Europe from a Muslim takeover.

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NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

On Friday, Norway suffered its worst massacre since World War II. Nearly 80 people were killed, scores more injured and some are still missing. The enormity of the assault is due in part to tactics. First, a car bomb outside government offices in downtown Oslo that drew the full attention of the police. Then a gunman in a police uniform talked his way onto an island that served as a summer camp for the children of the country's ruling political party and opened fire.

Anders Behring Breivikļæ½confessed to both terror attacks after police finally arrived. He appeared in court today for arraignment. In a closed hearing he pleaded not guilty and claimed that his purpose was not mass murder as such but to send a strong message and market a manifesto.

Police are now pouring over more than 1,500 pages of online rants against Muslim immigration to Europe and against the liberal Norwegian politicians who allow it. If you've been to northern Europe, if you're from Norway, how is this going to change things? Our phone number: 800-989-8255. E-mail: Talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. Go to NPR.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, SlutWalks on the opinion page this week. But first the terrorist attacks in Norway. Teri Schultz joins us by phone from Oslo. She's a freelance reporter reporting for NPR. And it's nice to have you with us today.

TERI SCHULTZ: My pleasure, Neal.

CONAN: And the first news is police reduced the number of those killed in the attacks on Friday. What's the new number and why did they get the number wrong?

SCHULTZ: Well, I can say that this is the first really spot of good news that we've heard here. The police had a number of explanations for why they gave the wrong numbers. And one of the most interesting was that they felt like the media's numbers initially - when the shooting first happened - were so low that they had to bump it up quickly to make it more realistic.

Because I can remember when I went to bed that night, it was 10 on the island. And when I woke up it was 80. And your head just spins with something like that. So they said they felt that people were not being given a realistic idea that there were going to be a lot of casualties. So they jumped they jumped to increase the number to give people a better context of what was happening and they went too far.

And they said it did take a long time to get identification. You know, they're pulling bodies out of the water. Some of the bodies were in bad shape. They had a difficult time identifying the victims. And in the rubble as well. You know, the death toll there went up by one, and they're still searching in both locations for additional victims. But I can tell you that the downward revision from 93 to 76 is a really good thing here today.

CONAN: And tell us what happened in court today at the arraignment.

SCHULTZ: It was wild. We didn't see any of it and we still know it was wild. It ended up being a closed hearing, because the judge had decided on the recommendation of police in advance that Breivik was going to use this as a grandstanding opportunity, and nobody wanted to give him that opportunity.

Now, we learned more later. And that is, when the judge came out after the hearing he said, well, we learned - and this is because Breivik was boasting - that he says he has contacts in a terror cell. And we did not want to let him communicate with them. What if he was going to use the hearing as a way to tip off his cohort? What if he was going to, you know, give them a signal to go ahead and launch their attacks? They're not taking any chances with something like that.

Something kind of funny. Breivik himself had asked for an open hearing and he had asked for permission to wear a uniform. Now, that's very sensitive because, as we know, he was wearing a police uniform when he went onto the island. But even his own lawyer couldn't tell us what kind of uniform he wanted to don for his hearing. In any case, that was denied and the hearing was closed. But the judges did come out and give a very full rendition of what happened in that room.

CONAN: And these other groups or - that he made reference to apparently a new Knights Templar, referring to the crusaders from, what, centuries and centuries ago.

SCHULTZ: We don't really know. The judge was not specific about which two groups Breivik referred to specifically today. In his writings - as you mentioned, there are hundreds and hundreds of pages that he has written on the Internet - he mentioned several groups. So it's not really clear which ones he's saying he has on - you know, prepared to go ahead and launch attacks.

But one interesting point is that some of these groups that he expressed admiration for in his writings, in his manifesto, have said we have nothing to do with this guy. We want nothing to do with this guy. Yes, we're right wing. Yes, we may be called extremists, but we would never go gun down kids. And we don't want anything to do with Breivik.

So he may have some imagination about what groups are allied with him that may or may not be based in reality. And we just don't know. But I can tell you that investigators are taking it seriously and there is certainly a new round of investigation into what contacts he may have after today. He described them as a terror cell.

CONAN: He will be held for at least four weeks in isolation before there's a new hearing?

SCHULTZ: It's actually eight weeks. He will be held for four weeks in complete isolation. He'll be held in solitary confinement. And this, again, is a reaction to his own boasting. They don't want him to have any contact with anyone except his attorney. And he won't for four weeks.

Now, what the prosecution asked for was eight weeks total. And the judge gave them to them. So the first four weeks will be in solitary confinement. The next four weeks he will still not receive any news and not any letters and not any visitors. But he won't be in solitary confinement anymore. So eight weeks total is what they asked for. Eight weeks is what they got. It may well be in all the research that's going to be done on this that they have to ask for an extension. But that's what we know so far. He will come up for a hearing again September 26.

CONAN: Yesterday there was an emotional scene at Oslo Cathedral at the memorial service for those killed. And is it possible Monday morning Norway went back to work as normal? I can't imagine that.

SCHULTZ: You're correct. Officially Norway went back to business as usual. The markets were open. Government workers were supposed to go to work, even as their offices had been blown away by the bomb. They were going to find them relocated offices. But I didn't see any signs that life was going back to normal. People are very, very deeply affected here.

I've been to Norway many times over the last two decades and I could never have imagined how heavy the air is here with the sorrow.

And you say there was an emotional ceremony yesterday. There are emotional ceremonies all day, every day, across this country. Today, there was a moment of silence. At this very moment there is a ceremony going on downtown where 150,000 people are standing with candles, with roses, crying, holding onto each other while performers sing and play the violin. And the prime minister is there, as he had been everywhere.

I mean, we have had - everywhere someone goes it's an emotional ceremony here. And journalists are affected too. There are many journalists with tears in their eyes as we cover this story.

CONAN: And is it too early to ask, well, the same question we're asking our listeners today - what's going to change as a result of this?

SCHULTZ: I think it is too early to know, because once again it happened on a Friday. It's now Monday. That's pretty quick. It feels like it's been a lot longer to people who are living through this horrible, horrible tragedy. But the government has had several crisis meetings. But they haven't come out and told us what's changing in policy.

And, you know, I haven't heard people asking for it that urgently. I simply can't convey how emotionally devastated people are. You may expect them to come up and be saying, What are we going to do to make sure this doesn't happen again. And yeah, they want to know that this isn't going to happen again. But right now they are really, really hurt. Hurt that a Norwegian would do this. Hurt that that many people died. I mean, this dwarfs the proportional numbers of 9/11. That's something for people to understand. In this country of 5 million people, if 76 - is a huge, huge proportion.

It's really overwhelming and I may be getting repetitive, but it's just unbelievable to me. So people are talking about what will change, not just in policy, but in the minds of Norwegians. Everybody has been used living a pretty free lifestyle here. You treat each other well and you expect to be treated well. And there has been some minor anti-immigrant sentiment, but certainly nothing like experienced in the Netherlands, in Belgium, in France. Nothing like that.

And even the right wing movements here - the police said, you know, we've had them under control. That's why we're surprised that he came out of nowhere, Breivik, because we thought we had - you know, we thought we had a handle on everybody who was active and that everybody who could be a threat. And they really haven't had a lot of trouble with that. They don't have shootings. Someone told me this is the first bomb that's ever gone off in Norway.

So I mean, it is a shocking, shocking event and people will expect things to change, but I think it's going to be partly in the minds of the Norwegians and in a bad way. They're not going to be able to trust that their life is safe. They keep saying they want to keep their freedoms that's so well known in Scandinavia, that they're so proud of in Scandinavia, but perhaps they have been living a little bit too idyllic of an existence and people are going to keep their eyes open a little bit more.

CONAN: We're talking with Teri Schultz, a freelance reporter who's reporting now for NPR from Oslo. If you've been to Northern Europe, if you're from Norway, what should change there as a result of this? 800-989-8255, email talk@npr.org. Reginald's on the line from Oklahoma City.

REGINALD: Yes. I was actually born in Bergen. My family is German stock, but I've been gone for over 20 years. And I know my family's horrified, I think more horrified - I mean, I was in America for September 11th and the reaction is very similar. But I do have to say - I don't know if many of you remember in the early '90s there were several churches burned in Norway by sort of disaffected youth from the - I guess the black metal scene, who were gravitation towards this almost Nazi mythology of the Aryan Norwegian.

And I think that that's sort of simmering - I don't even know - purist resentment, misplaced resentment is there and I think this is part of it. And I think two things will have to change. First of all, Norway may have to start to think about dealing with this populous in the surveillance terms that the UK has long adopted or that the U.S. has in the last decade begun to adopt. But I don't think they're ever going to be comfortable with it.

I know when - I seem to remember when Ben Hurney (sp) burned that church - 12th century church in the early '90s. You know, it was a horrible crime against a world heritage site. That that resentment is real and it is part of the young population there coming of age in a world that is changing. Norway has joined the world in a real way in the last 20 years and it's uncomfortable for many people who feel like they are set aside (unintelligible).

CONAN: Reginald, thanks very much for the call. And interesting you're calling from Oklahoma City, which, of course, has its own experience with sudden and terrible loss. Our thanks, as well, to Teri Schultz. I appreciated your time today and look forward to hearing your stories.

SCHULTZ: Thank you very much.

CONAN: Teri Schultz reporting for NPR from Oslo. What's going to change in Norway? If you've been to Northern Europe, if your family's from Norway, give us a call, 800-989-8255. This is NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan. The flags outside the courthouse in Oslo stand at half staff today. Inside, the man who confessed to bombing a government building and then gunning down dozens of young men and women said he did it to save Europe. He blames liberals and multiculturalism for destroying Norway's indigenous culture. He hopes to ignite a revolution. The attacks have refocused attention on right wing extremism in many parts of Europe as more and more non-European immigrants find homes there.

If you've been to Northern Europe, if you're from Norway, how is this going to change things? Our phone number is 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website, that's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION. Joining us now by phone from his office in Boston, is honorary consul Terje Korsnes, honorary consul for Norway in Massachusetts. Nice to have you with us today and, please, our deepest condolences on your losses.

TERJE KORSNES: Thank you, sir.

CONAN: How serious of an issue has immigration become in recent years? First of all, give us an idea of the scale of immigration in Norway.

KORSNES: Well, I don't think I have a scale to give. It's limited. Historically, Norway is not a country that draws immigrants. But over the past two or three decades, it's changed gradually with political refugees and then other immigrants as the policies have been lenient and open to accept immigrants. And thus Norway over the last two, three decades has grown to be a more multicultural society.

CONAN: And that's, obviously, the source of some of this suspect's anger. Are immigrants treated well in Norway?

KORSNES: Yes, they are. There are a multitude of programs that I think it's fair to say that Norway is, like most North European countries, adjusting gradually to that fact of life and they're many social programs that may seem attractive to immigrants from certain societies around the world.

CONAN: And Norway, a wealthy country, due in part to oil off the coast.

KORSNES: Yes, of course.

CONAN: And I wonder, as we hear about this, can you give us some idea of how prevalent this young man's ideas are? Not his actions. Obviously, those are unique. But his ideas, is there a segment of Norwegian society that would agree with him?

KORSNES: I would hope that very few or none would agree with his extreme views on the matter of immigration and other matters that he has expressed in his manifesto. It's the work of a mad man and it is not prevalent in Norway at all what he stands for.

CONAN: And as he goes ahead with this court case against him, presuming it goes ahead, what is the approach to dealing with this? As I understand it, Norway, no matter what you've done, you cannot be sentenced to any more than 21 years in prison.

KORSNES: Well, then again, it's a legal matter so I wouldn't venture to guess what can be done, but I would hope that this man never gets outside again.

CONAN: We may all agree with that, but as a rule, do you understand that 21 year rule to be in effect? And as I've read, if, you know, good behavior, whatnot, he could be out in 15, 16 years.

KORSNES: Theoretically, yes.

CONAN: Theoretically, okay. There may be some ways found to act on that, given the sentiments that he's generated these last few days. This must be one of those moments where you look at your country with some disbelief and at the same time some pride with what's happened yesterday and the proceedings at the cathedral.

KORSNES: Yeah, we are all horrified as anyone would be, or is, having watched what has been reported and followed it both in Norwegian media and through media here. And at the same time, been very proud to see how even victims of the shooting at Utoya have stood up and said, we cannot let this coward alter our course and how we live our lives here in Norway - from that young man who spoke very well on CNN to the prime minister who has said much the same thing.

CONAN: We're speaking with Terje Korsnes, who's the honorary consul for Norway in Massachusetts. What's going to change there? 800-989-8255, email talk@npr.org. Joe's on the line calling from Philadelphia.

JOE: Yeah, Neal, I appreciate the call. I listen to you as much as I can.

CONAN: Thank you.

JOE: Yeah, I was living in Norway for about nine months during their last national elections. And from what able I - from what I was able to gain, it seemed like one of the larger swings to the right side of the political spectrum mostly because of issues of immigration. So it seems like there's been a concern dwelling in recent years. Certainly, not to the extent of what happened recently, but I don't think it's necessarily a surprising sentiment throughout the country.

CONAN: And what do you think is going to change as a result?

JOE: Well, it wouldn't surprise me if immigration laws might be ratcheted up. I know it's not only the concern about maybe Muslim immigrants, but a lot of Eastern Europeans that might come for the generosity of social programs in Norway.

CONAN: Some might argue that this - then the terrorist gets what he wants.

JOE: Potentially, yeah.

CONAN: Yeah. Joe, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it. And I wonder, our consul Korsnes, that - do you think that might be a result?

KORSNES: I don't share that sentiment at all.

CONAN: And do you think your countrymen will?

KORSNES: I don't think they will agree with that sentiment. I think Norway will continue its course as an open and democratic society where dialogue and communication is going to help people find a way to live together. And as the caller reflected on his visit to Norway, the second biggest party in Norway is probably what he referred to, the Progressive Party, they have clearly said that none of what this individual stands for they stand for.

CONAN: Let's go next to Stewart. Stewart with us from Minneapolis.

STEWART: Yes, hello.

CONAN: Hi. Go ahead, please.

STEWART: Can you hear me?

CONAN: Yes, I can.

STEWART: Yeah, hi. I live in Noren. I've lived there about three years. And I've interviewed and spoken to many people and I think many people follow the same ideals. Maybe as not as strong as this gentleman, Breivik, who - (unintelligible) people take it this far, but I would say 9 out of 10 people I've spoken to are very upset with the immigration of the Muslims and the political asylum and the family reunification. Sorry, go ahead.

CONAN: They have family reunification, so if one member of a family is accepted into Norway, other family members are then accepted?

STEWART: Absolutely. And in the small town I lived in, it's grown three fold. It's considered, by some of the people there, an epidemic because they're not accepted into society. They're there taking advantage of welfare and all the great things that they do offer to turn them into Norwegians, but they don't want to become Norwegians. They want to maintain their own culture, to some degree.

CONAN: Is it not a simple human right, if you've fled looking for asylum to another country, that you ought to be able to bring your family, too?

STEWART: Yeah, absolutely. And they do have to obey the laws to be able to get that. It does take some years and time. But it seems like, just in the small town I live in, in the last three years, it's been over 3,000 that have just come into my small town. It's very segregated. And a lot of my friends, my Norwegian friends, they don't like it because they feel they are getting more than the poor in Norway.

CONAN: So the immigrants are getting more services and more programs than the Norwegian poor.

STEWART: Absolutely. That seems to be the main problem that I hear from people that are on social welfare there.

CONAN: All right. Thanks very much for the call, Stewart. Appreciate it. And Consul Korsnes, we, in this country, have our own difficulties with immigration. We are, of course, a nation of immigrants. This is something relatively new to Norway. It would not be a surprise if what Joe was talking about was taking place.

KORSNES: Yeah. If there are instances and occurrence of what one could term anti-immigration in Norway, it would be likened to what might have been here 100 years ago. No Irish need apply type of thing - Norway is young in that sense and we're still learning to live with it and adjust. And I'm sure there are issues that this caller have observed. But I don't think it's a prevalent problem for Norway, that they can't deal with. They are dealing with it and it's not the perfect model for sure.

CONAN: Here's a column from The Guardian newspaper of London on Sunday. Norwegian Osloc Sira Myrie(ph) said: Like every other citizen of Oslo, I've walked in the streets and buildings that have been blown away. I've even spent time on the island where young political activists were massacred. I share the fear and pain of my country, but the question is always why. And this violence was not blind. The terror of Norway has not come from Islamic extremists, nor has it come from the far left, even though both these groups have been accused time after time of being the inner threat to our way of living, up to and including the terrifying hours in the afternoon of 22nd July, the little terror my country has experienced has come from the far right.

For decades, political violence in this country has been almost the sole preserve of neo-Nazis and other racist groups. During the 1970s, they bombed left-wing bookstores in a May Day demonstration. In the 1980s, two neo-Nazis were executed because they were suspected of betraying the group. In the past two decades, two non-white Norwegian boys have died as a result of racist attacks. No foreign group has killed or hurt people on Norwegian territory since the Second World War, except for the Israeli security force Mossad, which targeted and killed an innocent man by mistake in Lillehammer in 1973.

But even with this history, when this devastating terror hit us, we instantly suspected the Islamic world. It was the jihadis. It had to be. Small wonder. For at least 10 years, we've been told that terror comes from the East, that an Arab is suspicious, that all Muslims are tainted. We regularly see people of color being examined in private rooms at airport security. We have endless debates on the limit of our tolerance. As the Islamic world has become the other, we have begun to think of what that differentiates us from them is the ability to slaughter civilians in cold blood.

There is, of course, another reason why everybody looked for al-Qaida. Norway has been part of the war in Afghanistan for 10 years. We took part in the war in Iraq for some time, and we are eager bombers of Tripoli. There's a limit to how long you can partake in war before war reaches you. Aslak Sira Myhre writing in The Guardian of London. And let's see if we can get to this email. This is from Brett. I think it is almost impossible to stop these lone-wolf types of terrorist attacks.

Whatever country you are in, what is your thought? And it was interesting, Consul Korsnes said to hear Teri Schultz tell us earlier that the police were really puzzled by this. They thought they had good read on the extreme right in Norway.

KORSNES: Yeah. We were all surprised by that. But this man is said to have plotted this for nine years and been able to execute on his plan. So it just shows that it is possible.

CONAN: No protection can ever be 100 percent. You can't get everybody all the time.

KORSNES: No.

CONAN: We're talking with the honorary consul for Norway in Massachusetts, Consul Terje Korsnes. And you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, which is coming to you from NPR News.

Let's go next to Mossen(ph), Mossen with us from Orlando.

MOSSEN: Yeah, Mossen.

CONAN: Go ahead. You're on the air.

MOSSEN: Well, I'm an American-Muslim. You know, I've seen so many different acts of terrorism. And I've seen, you know, like one billion people of the world labeled for it and general fear. And, you know, all of it hit me really hard and close to home, mainly because, for the first time, I saw an act of violence where there's no guilt, there's no fear. I'm not scared. For once in my life, I can just hurt. And I lost that innocence for the last decade of feeling criminalized. And it's sad to see that, you know, we label, like, one group of people being bad and another group of being bad. But in the end, it's just - there's a rampant conservatism that's violent, that's growing in the world, despite of the cause you follow, despite of anything. And that is what's sad. And that's showing here.

And I just wonder, will this (technical difficulties) us? Will now Christian conservatives suddenly start feeling guilty the way that every Muslim had felt guilty for just being what we are and believing what we believe in?

CONAN: The suspect is a - I think cultural Christian is probably the right kind of word, at least from what I've read of the manifesto. And it's obviously long. I've not read it all. But from what I've read other than - and reading those who have read it - he's not religiously fundamentalist in a sense...

MOSSEN: Yeah.

CONAN: ...but certainly, culturally Christian.

MOSSEN: Mm-hmm. But, I mean, I think it's a general conservatism that's just gone rampant. And, you know, what they're targeting, both al-Qaida and fundamentalist Muslims and, you know, this fundamentalist - well, with his anti-liberal ideals, they're attacking liberalism. They're not attacking - you know, like, that's the general assault. And I think that's been lost over the last decade.

CONAN: Do you think that's a fair read, Consul Korsnes?

KORSNES: Oh, I think so. I think he's got a valid point, attacking liberalism, for sure. And Norway and many others - Scandinavian, north European countries - are governed by liberal-leaning parties and governments. At the same time, it's a society with openness to express views and have political party forum. It's not like a two-party system that they have here in the United States. And it harks back to what I said before: Norway hopes to address all these issues through the political process. And it may be naive, but that's the process Norway stands for and will - and, of course, it will continue.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Mossen. This is from Ross Douthat's column in The New York Times today. It is fair to call Breivik a right-winger. As Commentary magazine editor John Podhoretz put it: The Norwegian killer is exactly the kind of psychotic ideologue of the right so many in this country instantly assumed Jared Loughner - the schizophrenic who shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords - to be. His compendium quotes repeatedly from conservative writers on both sides of the Atlantic, and it's filled with attacks on familiar right-wing targets: secularism and political correctness, the European Union and the sexual revolution, radical Islam and the academic left.

How should European conservatives react? Not with the pretense that there's somehow no connection whatsoever between Breivik's extremism and the broader continental right. While his crimes should be denounced and disowned, their ideological pedigree has to be admitted. But this doesn't mean that conservatives need to surrender their convictions.

The horror in Norway no more discredits Merkel's views on Muslim assimilation than Ted Kaczynski's bombs discredited Al Gore's views on the dark side of industrialization. On the big picture, Europe's cultural conservatives are right: mass immigration really has left the continent more divided than enriched.

And Consul Korsnes, we also wanted to read some of the condolences that have been posted online, this from Michael Sandelson, editor - Father Barry Naylor, excuse me, in Leicester in the United Kingdom: Please be assured of our love and prayers from Leicester Cathedral in the U.K. and from the churches of the Anglican Diocese of Leicester. Our prayers are with you. We stand in solidarity with you in the shock, grief and questioning you must be going through at this time.

I'm ashamed that man who claims responsibility calls himself a Christian. A man with such views and who behaves in such a way has forfeited any right to claim the name of a follower of the Prince of Peace and the one who taught us the supreme power of love and mercy. God bless you all.

And it's not a word we use often on this program, Consul, but amen to that.

KORSNES: Amen to that, yes.

CONAN: Thank you very much for your time today.

KORSNES: You're welcome.

CONAN: Honorary Consul Terje Korsnes joined us from his office in Boston, Massachusetts.

Coming up, the SlutWalk, on the Opinion Page. Stay with us. It's the TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

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