With utter disbelief have I and many others followed the news of the killings in Norway. Not all facts are known yet, but it becomes increasingly clear that this was a politically motivated attack of a new quality from a right-wing extremist.
When initial reports of the Oslo bombings hit the news wires some “terror experts” were quick to point out that this looks like another act of al Qaeda. The USA quickly offered help in the investigation. Nobody thought that this massive destruction right in front of the office of Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg was only a diversion – yet it seems to have been exactly that. While the police and medical personnel rushed to secure the centre of Oslo the attacker turned to his actual target – the Social Democratic Youth’s summer camp on an island nearby. At least 80 people died there.
The alleged killer was not a fanatic islamist. In fact, he was a fanatic Islam hater and known for his right-wing extremism. Incredible as it seems it apparently was his goal to hurt the biggest political party in the country, his opponents, by killing their entire next generation of leaders. This is certainly a new dimension of extremism, and a very sad one.
What implications does this have for Finland? I hope no immediate ones. But as is often the case with new types of atrocities – some maniac might try to imitate this. In all of the Nordic countries political extremism has been on the rise in the last couple of years – not the least in Finland. This country had more than its fair share of school and shopping mall shootings already. It’s not unthinkable that politically motivated violence is on the rise now that it has become socially accepted to verbally bash people with different opinions.
In fact, there have been two politically motivated terror attacks in Finland already this spring/summer. Anarchists have planted a bomb in the Helsinki district of Pasila – it did not go off. The same group of people have also burned down a safety facility along the railway line in Vantaa’s Rekola area. Nobody was hurt, but train traffic was disrupted for several days. Had this been a plot by foreigners the reaction would have certainly been much harsher like stricter controls and laws. Instead, the police issued a warning to the anarchists: setting electrical equipment on fire might be dangerous – for the attacker.
It’s time to act properly when it comes to people who spread violence. It’s time to speak up against extremists. The influx of new members to political parties in Finland is a good sign. Let’s hope they keep their courage and won’t be deterred by deadly attacks on their gatherings.
Today my heart goes out to everybody in Norway who lost a friend, child, colleague or relative in this incomprehensible tragedy.