Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik declared insane

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Anders Breivik killed 77 people in two attacks in Norway
on 22 July 2011
Just a quick post to note an interesting development in the case of Anders Breivik, the far-right extremist who killed 77 people in Norway in July. The BBC reports that the psychiatrists assessing him have concluded that he is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and is living in his "own delusional universe where all his thoughts and acts are guided by his delusions".

Of course, it's not really possible for a distant observer to comment on Breivik's individual case or doubt the psychiatrists' assessment, but their conclusions do raise some interesting questions. While Breivik's justifications for the July massacres represent the most extreme manifestation of paranoia about the "Islamification" of Europe, many of the arguments he put forward in 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, the rambling "manifesto" he released online on the day of the attacks, are in line with wider discussion on the European far-right about Islam and the erosion of "Judeo-Christian culture". (Kenan Malik points out how widespread these ideas are in his essay in our latest issue.)

While paranoid schizophrenia may have led to Breivik's murderous actions, many on the far-right share a number of the views that make up his "delusional universe", as, indeed, do several more mainstream commentators in the European and American press. Whatever conclusions the Norwegian courts may reach about Breivik, such people should not be allowed to sidestep the questions raised by the appearance of their ideas in his "manifesto" by simply dismissing that document as the work of an insane criminal.
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