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Norway’s Johan Galtung, Peace & Conflict Pioneer, on How to Stop Extremism that Fueled Shooting

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Norwegian police have released the identities of another 24 people killed by alleged attacker Anders Behring Breivik as they ended their search for bodies around the island where 68 of the overall 76 victims of the twin Norway attacks were murdered. Breivik is due to be questioned by the police for the second time today. Details have emerged, meanwhile, on Breivik’s claim to have bought high-capacity ammunition clips used in the attack from the United States. As Norway mourns the tragedy, we speak with Johan Galtung, a Norwegian sociologist who is considered the father of peace and conflict studies. Galtung’s granddaughter was on the island when Breivik attacked. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Police in Norway yesterday released the identities of another 24 people killed by Anders Behring Breivik last Friday as they ended their search for bodies around the island where he shot 68 of his 76 victims. Breivik has admitted to shooting people on Utoya Island and killing another eight in a bombing in Oslo.

The head of the Norwegian Directorate of Health, Bjorn Guldvog, says health authorities should follow up with those affected by the shooting.

BJORN GULDVOG: This is a more dramatic catastrophe, with strong terror, than we are used to. And our best professionals gives very strong advice to have a more active role in the follow-up than we would otherwise recommend.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Details of the latest victims emerged as the anti-fascist organization Searchlight said it had found more postings on anti-Muslim and far-right forums thought to be from Breivik from as far back as 2008.

Breivik is due to be questioned by the police for the second time today. He was first questioned for seven hours the day after the attack. He claims he legally bought high-capacity ammunition clips by mail from the United States, prompting Capitol Hill’s leading gun-control advocate to say on Thursday that America should be ashamed such purchases aren’t against the law.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, European counterterrorism experts met in Brussels to discuss ways of preventing such attacks in the future. Tim Jones, the main adviser to E.U. counterterrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove, said he was concerned about others replicating the Norway attacks.

TIM JONES: One major risk is that somebody may actually try to mount a similar attack, as a copycat attack or as a way of showing support. It will depend how that attack is planned and where it takes place, whether it’s detectable or not, but it’s clearly a possibility.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Spain to be joined by a man who’s spent half a century pursuing nonviolent conflict resolution. He’s Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung, known as the father of peace and conflict studies, recipient of numerous awards, including the Right Livelihood Award and a number of honorary doctorates. He is founder and head of Transcend International, joins us right now from Spain, where he’s currently working. Also, his granddaughter was on the island when [Breivik] attacked the island.

We welcome you, Johan Galtung, to Democracy Now!

JOHAN GALTUNG: That’s very kind of you in this hour of profound mourning.

AMY GOODMAN: First, can you talk about what has taken place and also what happened to your granddaughter? From when this first happened, we have been trying to find you to talk to you, Johan, and as a Norwegian and as a person who’s dealt on the issue of peace studies for so many years. It was only right before we reached you that we learned your own granddaughter was in the attack.

JOHAN GALTUNG: So, you will get me, dear friends, in all three capacities: as a Norwegian, as a grandfather, and as an analyst with a number of things to say.

You can imagine the shock when I heard that my granddaughter had arrived not only on the island the day of the massacre, but together with the assassin on that small boat. And he was carrying a huge weapon, according to Ida—I-D-A is her name, member of that young Labourite youth organization, where I, myself, was a member many years ago. And she then understood, when the shooting started, that this is serious. So Ida escaped with a friend, a girlfriend, Johanna, and they were able, after getting rid of a red rain jacket, to camouflage themselves behind a stone under her green rain jacket. And on the other side of the stone, the assassin was standing, shooting. And their friends fell down, and crying, crying, crying. And there was a pool of blood. But she escaped, together with her friend, unhurt. And you can imagine that when, after one hour or close to an hour, a boat came, they didn’t dare go out. But then came a big unmistakable boat, and they escaped to that one.

This brings it very close. It’s a small society, you know? And we Norwegians, as you put it mildly, are not used to that kind of thing, 76 people killed on one day. And with an annual murder rate of 40, two years’ rate on one day. I don’t use the word “terrorist.” That’s an American vocabulary, which has found much too much usage. It’s a sign saying, “Stop thinking. He’s just simply bad and evil.”

So, then comes, of course, my third identity, as an analyst, and it is also clear that if you have the possibility of analysis, it somehow comes also as a comfort against your strong feelings as a Norwegian of solidarity with your compatriots, and in my case, also with people with whom I associate to a large extent still politically, and of course my granddaughter, too.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Johan Galtung, I’d like to ask you about the climate in which this has occurred across Europe, as well as in the United States: growing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant sentiment, right-wing parties getting more and more votes in a variety of countries across Europe. Could you talk about the impact on Norway of this event and also of the ideology behind the perpetrator of this terrible crime?

JOHAN GALTUNG: Thanks for the excellent question. So let me start with the more general Norwegian question. Don’t try to explain this in terms of anything Norwegian. Our right-wing populist party, which is very far from anything I stand for, I have to defend. They had strongly anti-Islamic, also racist, connotations two or one decade ago. They have, to a very large extent, liberated themselves from that. Anti-immigration? Yes. But they are not alone in that in Norway. He’s not a reflection of that party. He was a member and left it, and left it because he found it much far to the left or to the center and not to his liking. And the general climate in Norway, of course there are Islamophobes, and of course there are people to the extreme right not organized as a party. We have our fair shares.

But we also have something else. We have 10 percent of Norwegians born abroad, and a heavy portion of them are Muslims. And by and large, they are integrated perfectly, speak fantastic Norwegian. You now have them second generation. And as I say to my family members, I am totally prepared for the circumstance that there will be a Mohammed Galtung and a Fatima Galtung in the future. And Galtung is some of the oldest families in Norway, from Viking times.

Now, having said that, I have the impression that their encounter with middle-range social democratic Norway has also modified and made their Islam less, shall we say, confrontational, although I know enough about Islam to know that the word “confrontation” is not built into it, except when it is trampled upon—the fourth stage of jihad, to put it that way. In general terms, with some few exceptions, the relations are good, and very different from what you can find in other countries. You have England, Netherlands, of course, Hungary. And in Italy, a parliamentarian just said that he was 100 percent in agreement with Anders Breivik, but not with his violence, but ideologically in agreement.

So let us then turn to the second part of your question, which is—

AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to the second part—


AMY GOODMAN: —we’re going to go to a break, and then we’re going to come right back. We’re speaking with Johan Galtung, a Norwegian sociologist, one of the founders of peace and conflict studies, also the author of a book called The Fall of the U.S. Empire—And Then What?. His granddaughter was caught in the attacks on the island. She survived. Her friend did not. We’ll continue our conversation in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guest right now in Spain is Johan Galtung. He’s a Norwegian sociologist, principal founder of peace and conflict studies, author of the book The Fall of the U.S. Empire—And Then What? We’re talking about this issue of how to avoid, stop these kind of attacks in the future. And then, following up on Juan’s question, your second answer, Johan Galtung?

JOHAN GALTUNG: His ideology, OK, we have to go into it. And it doesn’t help anything, as I said, to call him a “terrorist.” We have to try to understand him. So I identify three features very quickly. Point one, a civil war in Europe between deep Christianity, which is his essentially as Catholic, and Islam. And a civil war has been going on and is going on. Point two, Islam is penetrating on a road greased by multiculturalism, tolerance, and key proponents of this tolerance are the builders of that road, which he finds in what he calls “cultural Marxism” and social democracy. And point three, debate is impossible. You cannot end the Norwegian democracy and have a debate about this, because people are deaf and dumb. The Islamists, as he calls and would refer to all Muslims, will not listen; they are just pursuing their cause. In other words, the only possible response, horrible as it is, is violence—terrible, but necessary. There you have three features.

And that makes me immediately ask the question, what does it remind me of? And I have one simple answer and one horrifying answer. I will take the simple answer first: it reminds me of Nazism. There’s a civil war in Europe between Jews and Aryans—also a very basic tenet of Hitlerism, Nazism. And the Jews are of two kind: the Bolshevik Jews in Moscow and the plutocratic money Jews in London. Point two, there is something greasing the way for them, and that is miscegenation, racial mixing, marriages between Jews and Aryans—the worst crime imaginable. And point three, these people have their minds set; there is no dialogue possible. The only thing one can do is to expel them. You might even reward them for expelling them. And if not, the alternative is to execute them. Now, that last point was picked up by Breivik. I don’t think he had it from Nazism, but his idea was that each Muslim family in Norway should be paid 25,000 euro to leave, back to their own country. And if they rejected that, the alternative was execution—exactly the same as the Nazis did under the famous Transfer Agreement during the 1930s, when 60,000 Zionist German Jews were given not only the permission, but encouraged to leave for Palestine. Well, I can call this ideology neo-fascism, and it’s an updating, where instead of being anti-Semitic, it’s anti-Islam, and instead of miscegenation being the fantasma, it’s multiculturalism. So Breivik talks cultures where the Nazis talked race. But otherwise, the similarity is almost point to point.

But you see, then, when again you ask the question, “What does it remind you of?” there is a horrifying answer, which will be very difficult for Norway to process. This is exactly the ideology of the Washington-led attack on Muslim countries. There’s a civil war in Europe. It’s called “clash of civilizations,” the idea that came from the Princeton professor Bernard Lewis and was taken by Samuel Huntington’s publishers and put as title of his book, and I think wrongly attributed to Sam. But that doesn’t matter; that’s a small detail. The road is greased by failed states and by local groups taking command those failed states, so that in these failed states, the local groups, be they Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, these groups can launch decisive attacks on the Christian Western mainland, and particularly then U.S. And 9/11 is then interpreted in that context. And point three, makes no sense to have any dialogue. These people, you cannot talk with them. Terrible as it is, the only language they understand is violence. Well, my country, Norway, is a part of that: sharpshooters in Afghanistan killing Taliban.

I had talked to a number of Taliban. I feel very deeply touched by that. They are human beings. They are fighting for their country. Some are what we would call “extremists,” most of them are not. I think their ideology has essentially three points. Point one, they stand up for Islam, but know they have made—know very well they have made mistakes, particularly with regard to women. Point two, they hate Kabul as the landing platform for foreign invaders. And they hate being invaded. I have no difficulty accepting those three points. I have great difficulties, or I cannot—I simply reject the Norwegian government signing up with the U.S. effort to try to quench what they see as a rebellion of people with whom they cannot talk.

And then you have Norway in Libya, F-16s, 535 sorties, throwing 501 bombs on what they call military targets. OK, Breivik could say, “My bomb killed very few, and it was on the target.” The target was the center of decision making. The parallel is disgusting. And the point about it is that, suddenly, my little country Norway stands as victim. We are mourning today. There are beautiful ceremonies. And I must reach out to the Prime Minister, saying his words are extremely well chosen. He does it beautifully. And at the same time, Norway, under the leadership of Washington, is doing exactly the same thing, only on a much larger scale: perpetrator—victim and perpetrator.

Well, I hope my country will be able to process that. And I think the way to process it, there’s only one road, and that is to point to positive openings, both in Norway, in Europe, and in the world. So, as a mediator, I’m working on that and have a couple of small things to say.

AMY GOODMAN: We only have a few minutes to go, and I wanted to ask—you have said that you don’t compare this to Timothy McVeigh blowing up the Oklahoma City building or to 9/11, but to the Nazis.


AMY GOODMAN: Your father was captured, is that right? Held by the Nazis.

JOHAN GALTUNG: That’s correct. He was in concentration camp.

AMY GOODMAN: That comparison that you make and those you reject? And then I’d like you to end by reading a portion of the letter from your granddaughter, who was on the island when Breivik started shooting.

JOHAN GALTUNG: Now, you want me to read, or you will read?

AMY GOODMAN: No, no, if you would, but if you would just start by that comparison, the ones you’re rejecting, to 9/11 and Timothy McVeigh, and the one you think is most appropriate.

JOHAN GALTUNG: My granddaughter ends her letter to all her relatives, and I do not have her permission to circulate this in any detail, but she ends with a very important sentence. “I want you all to know that if I haven’t answered to all the expressions of compassion that I have been reading by now, it’s because I have tried to think, and I have tried to think of one thing: how can we prevent movements like the movement Breivik participated in?” I find that very wise. And the question is, what are the answers?

Let me give one answer immediately. Challenge these people on the extreme right in debate. Get them out in public space, in the open. Challenge them. Let me only say one thing. If you want to challenge them, you should have been well prepared. These people are well prepared. Don’t underestimate them—point one. This has to happen all over Europe. It is not a question of just identifying cells. It’s a question of going to them personally. Get them out. Invite them into the best of our society, the open, free debate. But—and then comes the difficult point—it’s difficult to do that unless you are willing to open for the same possibility in dialogues and debates with Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda. And I can only say, having done it, it’s very, very easy. But you have to understand them. That doesn’t mean you have to accept them, but you have to go your portion of the way.

And I can add to that one point. The mourning today in Norway is in churches and in mosques. How about a joint ceremony? A joint ceremony would be beautiful. We haven’t quite come to that stage yet, but we could be close. And the closest place in Europe would be the Mezquita in Córdoba, which was a mosque and was destroyed partly. They were trying to make a cathedral, and now is some kind of mix. Well, the Muslims in Spain have suggested to have, let us say, Muslim ceremonies on Fridays, Christian on Sundays, and I could add, how about joint ceremonies on Saturdays? It’s been rejected by the local clergy. And then I turn my face on the map to Turkey. OK, you had a big, big cathedral in Constantinople, and it was turned into a mosque. How about doing the same there? How about doing the same? You have Premier Erdogan in Turkey, Zapatero, and they have made the Alliance of Civilizations. What a fantastic symbol this would be, leaving these rightists behind, saying, “You are not a part of our history. You belong to the past. You belong to the past. Come and join us in this endeavor. Talk with the Islamic people you are so afraid of.” And you will find them 99.99 percent very, very reasonable.

AMY GOODMAN: Johan Galtung, we want to thank you very much for being with us, Norwegian sociologist, called the father of peace studies, author of the book, among others, The Fall of the U.S. Empire—And Then What?. His father was taken by the Nazis, was considered a mayor of Oslo, was a doctor. His granddaughter was one of the survivors of Breivik’s shooting on the island.

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