Irfan Yusuf: Europe's conservative al-Qaeda

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A bomb goes off in a major European city. Nearby, civilians are shot in cold blood, almost 100 are killed, virtually all activists from the youth wing of the ruling.

Yet another terrorist attack on European soil. Who is responsible? Who will all the pundits and self-appointed terror experts tell us did it? What was their motivation? Take a guess.

According to a recent Europol report on terrorist attacks in 2010, there were 249 attacks. The report continues: "Islamist terrorists carried out three attacks on EU territory. Separatist groups, on the other hand, were responsible for 160 attacks, while left-wing and anarchist groups were responsible for 45 attacks. One single-issue attack was reported from Greece."

But the shrill sound of group responsibility will lead us all to immediately suspect that those responsible were burqa-clad ZZ Top-bearded Muslim fanatics determined to send sharia shockwaves across the West. And that's exactly what was said in the case of the recent Norwegian attacks.

In fact, we now know that this incident, like the vast majority of terrorist attacks in Europe, was the work of at least one extremist linked to terror cells of a more far-Right nationalistic variety.

The man who has admitted to carrying out the attacks was inspired by a desire to change the politics of his nation using what he described as a ''crusade''. The use of this word was not accidental. He was part of a loose franchise of crusader knights set up in London in 2002, with cells across Europe. The franchise, a conservative Christian version of al-Qaeda, sought to take Europe back to a time when only ''indigenous Europeans'' occupied the continent.

Among his many extremist activities, he was ''a member of a Swedish neo-Nazi internet forum named Nordisk, which hosts discussions ranging from white power music to political strategies to crush democracy''. The man clearly had all the hallmarks of a terrorist. He was the kind of person who, if he had an Arabic-sounding name, would trigger a round of collective responsibility shaped like pairs of shoes. I and many others deemed to look sufficiently Islamic or Middle Eastern would be forced to wear these shoes on our feet for months or years.

Pundits hired by media empires known to engage in illegal phone-tapping would be poisoning the minds of their large readership against me. Politicians of similar ideological stripes would call for a review of immigration policies, of banning certain headgear and who knows what else.

Is now a good time for me to sound triumphant, to force the shoes on their foot? Or to take off the shoes and throw them at my accusers? Is now is a good time to ask questions such as why aren't more (nominally) Christian conservatives of European heritage loudly protesting at the terrorism of one of their own? And why aren't their leaders (political and religious or intellectual) more vocal?

And why aren't the so-called moderate European conservatives marching through the streets protesting against terrorism? Aren't people's lives more sacred than, say, opposing a carbon tax?

Usually it is self-appointed Muslim talking heads being apologetic or staying silent post-terrorism. Now after Norway we are seeing many thick and not-so-thick sheikhs of the Western right in denial over terrorism in their ''own'' ranks.

Across the Tasman, Australia's most well-read columnist is Andrew Bolt. His blog boasts over 1 million hits a day. His columns are read in Murdoch-owned tabloids. His politics are of far to the Right of centre, sceptical of climate change science and supportive of the most vigorous cultural warriors.

When Andrew Bolt suspected the acts were those of some person from the wrong religion, he shouted the ''T'' word from his cyber-rooftop. But when it turned out to be someone who shared the same European religious and right-wing, anti-Muslim, anti-multicultural politics, Bolt suddenly declared him ''a single madman''.

Presumably Bolt will now claim that the secret society of which the Norwegian terrorist was a member consisted of hundreds, possibly thousands, of singular madmen.

Bolt and others on the cultural warrior right must now live with the fact that they share their ideological leanings with mass murderers. The fact is that, apart from his murderous actions, there is plenty in appearance and political views that 32-year-old Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik shares with many allegedly mainstream conservatives.

If you don't believe me, consider this. The Centre for Independent Studies is still not too embarrassed to host Thilo Sarrazin, a German former banker and politician who claims Muslims are lowering German intelligence and that all Jews share certain genes. Also speaking on the same podium is another Murdoch columnist for writes for The Australian.

When Sarrazin made his remarks in 2010, German Jewish leader Stephen Kramer remarked, ''There's no room in the political debate for remarks that whip up racism or anti-Semitism.'' One wonders what Kramer and others would have made of Rupert Murdoch's genetic theory (made to his biographer Michael Wolff) that ''the basic problem of the Muslim people was that they married their cousins''. Is it legitimate to ask whether (allegedly) moderate conservatives at the CIS, at the Murdoch press, in conservative political parties, will loudly condemn Breivik's actions?

Are we to take their silence and denial as support for violent right-wing terrorism? Or will they request us non-cultural-warriors to be fair and balanced in a manner they have rarely been? Will they insist we refrain from divisive rhetoric in a manner they rarely have?

* Irfan Yusuf is a lawyer and author of Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-fascist.

- NZ Herald

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