Sunday, October 17

Extremism and radicalization soar in the Nordic countries

Correspondent in Berlin



Norway is in a state of shock, but Islamist attacks are nothing new in this country. Political scientist Tobias Etzold, who conducts research on right-wing populism at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, has observed that around the 10th anniversary of the Utøya bombing “There is a new discussion about it, because both attackers had an Islamist background, but the fact is that everyone is moved on the day of the attack and afterwards there are no legal consequences.”

In recent years, “a climate of radicalization has developed” in certain circles, not only in Norway, but also in Sweden and Denmark. «The rise of right-wing populist parties with xenophobic rhetoric on the one hand and the suburbs, turned into ghettos in which young people live by reaction and counter-reaction, in periodic manifestations of violence, is a permanent breeding ground “, he points out. “The potential for violence is enormous,” says the expert, “extremist networks in Norway operate in the dark, on both extreme sides of the political arc.”

Etzold suspects that the new center-left Norwegian government will tackle the problem in the coming months, “at least it seems to be more aware of it.” The inauguration of the Social Democrat Jonas Gahr Støre as head of government, which took place yesterday, was overshadowed by the attack. This rarefied climate has led to the emergence of far-right groups opposed to Islam such as Stop the Islamization of Norway, with parallels in the Patriots Germans against the Islamization of the West (Peguida), which calls for the prohibition of this religion and calls demonstrations in which the Koran is burned. The group’s leader, Anna Braten, repeats in her actions that “there is no place for Islam in Norway and that the holy Quran should be completely destroyed.”

The police have intervened in several of their protests, as well as events called by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the far-right Strict Line movement (Stram Course). In Finland, the chairman of the far-right party First the Finnish People (Suomen Kansa Ensin), Marco de Wit, destroyed a Koran during the campaign for the European Parliament elections, joining a movement that is spreading in northern Europe and whose members communicate almost exclusively through social networks.

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