Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norway after the Terror

The challenge for Norway moving forward is the question that has concerned nations affected by terrorism since the beginning of time: How do we respond after the attack to make sure our people are as safe as humanly possible? Judging by the words of Iver Neumann, a research fellow at Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, quoted in Christian Science Monitor talking about its’ decision not to heighten security for its political leaders following incidents in other nearby countries the question is open: “We see it as a key political value in itself not to have that kind of militarized society,” “Whether we can still afford such an open society, is now up for debate.” Many societies have decided to fight terror by becoming more militarized or at the very least passing greater restrictions on freedom. It seems likely that Norway will consider changes to how it protects political figures, given that the Prime Minister was something of a target here. However, if Norway becomes a militarized society, they have effectively had their values altered and changed through terrorism, which sends a potentially dangerous message to any terrorist Islamic or right wing that they can simply bomb or shoot their way to political and social change.

A second concern is Norway’s Islam problem, which in both scenarios of who perpetrated Friday’s attacks played key roles. Clearly, there’s a right wing fringe who is steadfastly anti-Islamic and hates current immigration policy. Norwegian prosecutors filed terror charges against an Iraqi-born cleric Mullah Krekar who allegedly threatened to kill Norwegian politicians, if he was deported to Iraq. He founded the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, and still lives in the country. This along with the attack in Sweden in December 2010 by an Iraqi born man Taimor Abdulwahb al-Abdaly over the countries military presence in Afghanistan and Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who drew an image of the prophet Muhammad on a dog’s body. From an outsiders point of view, the Scandinavian countries should take a long hard look at their immigration situation because on one hand, they want to feel welcoming to new immigrants, but as we are painfully aware, terrorists will take advantage of even the best intentioned goodwill.

Norway is in a very difficult spot caught between their traditional culture and political values and the terrorists who will attempt to use the things that make Norway attractive to Norwegians and outsiders to their advantage. It’s a delicate act of political and social gymnastics that leaders have had to undertake for centuries. I’d expect a more security oriented Norway with greater security stationed around governmental buildings and a serious reexamination of immigration policies, though what form this takes, only Norway knows.

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