On Friday, July 22, Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik bombed government buildings in Oslo, then attacked a youth Labor Party camp on Utoya Island, killing 74 people. Dozens and dozens of young adults, emerging leaders, were brutally murdered at his hands, many while running or swimming for their lives.
We didn’t have to wonder long about why Breivik committed his crimes. He provided a 1,500-page manifesto, through which it became known the attacks were based in anti-Muslim, rightist hatred, committed by a man who said he feared for the future of his country at the hands of “multiculturalist” liberals and an increasingly large Muslim population.
In the following weeks, it became clear that Breivik took inspiration from none other than America’s own anti-Muslim rightists, who claim to fear for the future of their country for the same reasons. This group includes Pamela Geller, a staunch opponent of the Park 51 community center in lower Manhattan who writes an influential blog, Atlas Shrugs, and Robert Spencer, a prolific author who also directs the anti-Islam blog Jihad Watch.
Breivik quotes extensively from these two and others in the growing anti-Islam blogosphere in his manifesto, where he describes his inspiration for the attacks. He self-identifies as a Christian. “I prayed to God,” Breivik writes, to “ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevailed.”
Geller, who appears to make a living off of spreading misinformation about Islam and trying to tie the religion to those who twist it to justify heinous crimes, responded, “I found very disturbing to hear the number of times [newscasters] use the word ‘Christian.’ They would never dare refer to religion when it is jihad, and this attack had nothing to do with Christianity.”