“Never again,” Norwegian politicians pledged, after the terrorist attacks perpetrated by rightwing extremist Anders Breivik on July 22 2011, the worst in the nation’s history. Yet just last month, an armed 21-year-old Norwegian, Philip Manshaus, stormed into a mosque in Bærum outside Oslo and opened fire, his actions inspired apparently by Breivik as well as recent terror incidents in New Zealand and El Paso.
Norway is generally portrayed in the international media as a haven of peace, prosperity, happiness and equality. So why has it produced so much violent rightwing extremism in the past decade?
In order to understand the phenomenon, we need to return to the many unacknowledged faultlines in the political and popular response to the terror of July 2011.… Seguir leyendo »
My life story might be summed up like this: I’ve travelled from one of the worst countries in the world for women to one of the best countries. I am an Afghan refugee in Norway. Adaptation is a process, and comparing these two countries would be totally unfair but I would like to share my insights into what it feels like to be an independent woman in both countries.
As I write, I find myself on the shores of the Skagerrak strait in southern Norway. I’m on a typical cabin holiday, sitting by the water and feeling the fresh breeze playing with my curly, crazy hair at six in the morning.… Seguir leyendo »
The Besseggen ridge juts from the earth as a curved spine of sharp, dark-gray stone and carves its way between two blue lakes in Jotunheimen, one of Norway’s many spectacular, wild national parks. “Jotunheimen” translates as “home of the giants,” and everything here is oversize, including the lakes. They are separated only by a narrow slice of the ridge yet have very distinct colors: Gjende is a long sweep of aquamarine; Bessvatnet is a dark royal blue.
Besseggen, a worthy destination for its otherworldly beauty alone, is also immortalized in national lore. Norway’s tourism board claims that Thor, the ill-tempered Norse warrior king, forged it by slamming his hammer into the earth.… Seguir leyendo »
Mon départ en Norvège n’avait pas seulement pour objectif de contribuer, comme chercheur, à une grande aventure scientifique. Je voulais aussi comprendre comment une nation a délibérément su orienter ses choix pour devenir un modèle environnemental. En chargeant la voiture, dans la chaleur (anormalement) écrasante du mois d’août, j’étais obsédé par cette question qui me hante et mobilise mes journées. Comme beaucoup de scientifiques, je vis dans cette urgence : s’arc-bouter pour limiter l’emballement de la machine climatique. Ne pas semer l’enfer dans lequel nos petits-enfants devront grandir.
Une jeunesse au creux des montagnes ardéchoises a probablement tissé cette fibre et cette sensibilité.… Seguir leyendo »
Norway’s parliamentary election on Sept. 11 looks tight, with neither the Labor nor Conservative parties capable of winning an outright majority. The Center Party, a potential coalition kingmaker, has pulled ahead of the pack of smaller parties with a curious, anti-Oslo populist approach focusing on Norway’s center-periphery divide.
After the 2013 election, the center-right Conservatives and the anti-immigration Progress Party formed a minority government, with support from the Liberals and Christian Democrats. This government has survived the full parliamentary cycle, but polling since 2013 has shown considerable fluctuation in voter support (see Figure 1).
Here are four things to know:
1) The Center Party is on the rise, by being anti-center. … Seguir leyendo »
It’s always strange to live in a country that is listed as being one of the very best. When you have everything outwardly, it can make you look inwards. That’s when you sit down and think: “I wonder what Ryan Gosling is doing right now.” People in Syria do not worry about that stuff, for them happiness is something as simple as peace. But if you’re from safe little Norway, you’ve got loads of time to imagine what Ryan is up to. He’s probably eating lunch with Eminem and Benicio Del Toro. You know, just catching up with two old friends.… Seguir leyendo »
Sweden’s message to migrants in Europe is clear: Don’t come here. “Even we have our limits, and now they have been reached,” a defeated-sounding migration minister, Morgan Johansson, explained during a press conference on Nov. 5. “Those who come to our borders may be told that we cannot guarantee them housing.”
That message, nailed down this week when the government announced that Sweden was reintroducing border controls, was a sudden shift from an administration that had claimed there were “no limits” to the number of refugees it could accept. The reversal testifies not only to intensifying challenges Sweden faces abroad, but also to the dysfunctional nature of its immigration debate at home.… Seguir leyendo »
According to the worldview of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, the town of Kirkenes, Norway, is an illusion. To Mr. Putin, there is only east and west, two separate spheres split by a straight north-south line through Europe. But the place does actually exist: in Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost county, just a few miles away from the Russian border and farther east than Sweden, Finland and the Baltic countries.
In geopolitical terms, one can see incredible things here. Huge fishing vessels with Cyrillic nameplates unload tons of king crab and cod at Kirkenes harbor, destined for the European market. Farther down the road, at the shopping mall — labeled in Cyrillic — Russian families from across the border come to purchase yogurt, cheese, winter coats and perfumes.… Seguir leyendo »
The narrow victory of the left-leaning Social Democratic Party in Sweden’s elections last Sunday marked a broad shift in its politics. But a new coalition government is unlikely to reconsider one of the country’s most challenging policies: its response to the Syrian civil war. Sweden has taken an open-door approach to people fleeing the conflict, accepting more Syrians than any other European country.
Never mind that Sweden has double-digit youth unemployment. That there have been riots in immigrant neighborhoods in Stockholm. That there is a severe housing shortage for new arrivals. Or that the Swedish Migration Board, which handles asylum seekers, needs a drastic budget increase — almost $7 billion — to cover soaring costs over the next few years.… Seguir leyendo »
Some 50 years ago, Njord, the mythological Norsk god of wealth, smiled on the hardworking fishermen and lumberjacks, and presented Norway with the gift of oil. In financial terms, this was a handsome gift indeed, currently translated into a natural bounty worth $740 billion.
Successive Norwegian governments pledged to save this wealth for the welfare of future generations. Yet, half a century after this windfall began, questions increasingly arise of whether Norway’s handling of its oil wealth has even withstood the test of the past, much less the future.
The country’s 2013 election campaign spawned a debate about the government’s management of the massive Norwegian Oil Fund.… Seguir leyendo »
Much too often, diplomacy is behind the curve in struggling with developments unfolding in ways not foreseen.
But when the Arctic Council meets in Kiruna in northern Sweden in the next few days, it is a rare example of a framework set up to deal with events well before they really start to happen, thus making it possible to shape events rather than reacting to things that have already gone wrong.
The Arctic Council was set up between the eight Arctic states, with representatives of the indigenous peoples as permanent participants, in Ottawa in 1996. But in its first years it hardly registered on the international scene.… Seguir leyendo »
With global warming rapidly melting Arctic sea ice and glaciers making valuable stores of energy and minerals more accessible, voices of doom are warning of inevitable competition and potential conflict — a new “Great Game” among the five Arctic coastal nations.
In fact, the Arctic states of North America, Europe and Russia, working with indigenous peoples and a number of non-Arctic states, already have taken steps to ensure just the opposite: that the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation, peace and stable, sustainable development.
The Arctic Council — the intergovernmental organization for the eight Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States — has created a forum for cooperation and momentum toward a responsible approach to the region’s issues.… Seguir leyendo »
A debate about aid to Palestinians has erupted in Norway, a country that has long been one of the strongest supporters of Palestinian causes in Europe. Suddenly, an urgent level of scrutiny is bringing into question whether Oslo’s aid might be making peace less likely, rather than more.
Norway has opened its wallet to the Palestinian Authority, contributing more than $50 million a year since 2008. The money has gone into the PA’s budget, with some funds helping to pay for Palestinian Television. Norwegians recently got a taste of PA-TV programming and its impact and the experience was shocking. This has sparked a political battle and a wave of soul-searching with potentially major ramifications.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday, a Norwegian court ruled that Anders Behring Breivik, who mowed down 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in Oslo in July 2011, was sane. It was a verdict that many had waited for, one ensuring that the cold and loveless man who carried out the country’s worst bloodbath since World War II would be held responsible for his actions and not dismissed as a helpless victim of his sick mind.
It was also the verdict that Breivik himself wanted. He loathed the idea of incarceration in a mental facility, a fate he called «worse than death,» and insisted during the 10-week trial that his fertilizer bomb and machine gun were necessary instruments to stop what he viewed as a creeping Muslim takeover of Europe.… Seguir leyendo »
There are many reasons to welcome the verdict in the trial of Anders Behring Breivik: that he is sane and legally responsible for the murder of 77 people – mostly members of the Norwegian Labour party – on 22 July last year.
The guilty verdict recognises the monstrosity of Breivik’s acts, carried out in pursuit of his political beliefs. It also delivers the outcome wanted by the majority of Norwegians, in particular because it means he will spend no fewer than 21 years – and most likely life – in jail. Justice has been done to the fullest extent possible under Norwegian law.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday a Norwegian court will hand down its verdict on Anders Behring Breivik, who, on July 22, 2011, detonated a bomb in central Oslo, killing eight people and wounding hundreds more, then drove to Utoya Island, where he shot and killed 69 participants in the Norwegian Labor Party’s youth camp.
The world’s attention is focused on whether the court will find Mr. Breivik guilty or criminally insane, and there has already been much debate about how the court handled the question of his sanity. But there is far more to it. Because it gave space to the story of each individual victim, allowed their families to express their loss and listened to the voices of the wounded, the Breivik trial provides a new model for justice in cases of terrorism and civilian mass murder.… Seguir leyendo »
One year ago Sunday, Norway experienced one of the worst extremist attacks Western Europe has witnessed since World War II when Anders Behring Breivik systematically killed 77 people and injured hundreds of others.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s reaction was unequivocal. He declared that Norway’s strongest weapon in responding to this was to employ more openness and more democracy.
Norwegians took up his call. Neither politicians nor the media turned it into a partisan political issue. The public reacted with grief but did not call for extraordinary measures. And the state chose to prosecute Brevik in an ordinary public court with full media coverage.… Seguir leyendo »
On Thursday evening, I went to a neighbor’s house to watch the news. It was Anders Behring Breivik I wanted to see. I had seen innumerable images of him already, of course, read innumerable articles — even what he himself had posted on the Internet before he detonated a bomb in Oslo and drove out to the island of Utoya, where he executed 69 defenseless people. In the nine months that have passed since then, his image has been a constant in my life — as it has for all Norwegians.
But to get an impression of the nature of a person, one has to see him in motion.… Seguir leyendo »
The terror of Oslo and Utøya has given us Norwegians a shared trauma that will stay with us for ever. We are also bonded by our sympathy for the survivors, and the family and friends of the 77 people killed last July. In the aftermath of the attack we gathered in marches and public displays of sorrow.
But I fear this response differs little from how we would have reacted to a natural disaster or a fatal accident of the same dimensions. As the trial against self-confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik starts, Norwegian politics seems to be back to normal. Though Behring Breivik’s deeds, trial and psyche totally dominate the national media, we seem to be shying away from the political matters close to the terrorist’s heart.… Seguir leyendo »
En septembre dernier, les Norvégiens ont élu leurs représentants locaux et les Danois ont renouvelé leur parlement. Ces deux scrutins ont été suivis avec le plus grand intérêt par l’ensemble des Européens. Allait-on observer un recul de l’extrême droite en réaction aux événements violents qui se sont produits cet été en Norvège ?
LE RECUL ATTENDU DE L’EXTREME DROITE
La réponse à cette question semble être positive, même s’il est probable que la baisse ne soit que temporaire. En Suède, de récents sondages montrent un recul significatif du soutien populaire aux Démocrates suédois, parti nationaliste qui est entré au parlement en 2010.… Seguir leyendo »