The Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik writes in a manifesto that he acquired some 8,000 e-mail addresses of “cultural conservatives” not just across Europe but North America, Australia, South Africa, Armenia, Israel, and India – ensuring scrutiny of anti-Muslim groups far beyond Europe.
Mr. Breivik’s primary goal is to remove Muslims from Europe. But his manifesto invites the possibility for cooperation with Jewish groups in Israel, Buddhists in China, and Hindu nationalist groups in India to contain Islam.
"It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical," he wrote.
In the case of India, there is significant overlap between Breivik’s rhetoric and strains of Hindu nationalism – or Hindutva – on the question of coexistence with Muslims. Human rights monitors have long decried such rhetoric in India for creating a milieu for communal violence, and the Norway incidents are prompting calls here to confront the issue.
“Like Europe’s mainstream right-wing parties, [India’s] BJP has condemned the terrorism of the right – but not the thought system which drives it. Its refusal to engage in serious introspection, or even to unequivocally condemn Hindutva violence, has been nothing short of disgraceful,” writes senior journalist Praveen Swami in today’s edition of The Hindu.
“Liberal parties, including the Congress, have been equally evasive in their critique of both Hindutva and Islamist terrorism,” he adds.
Last week, Breivik detonated a bomb in downtown Oslo and opened fire at a youth camp of the ruling political party, killing at least 76 people. He reportedly said in court today that the rampage was “marketing” for his manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.”
Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto calls preserving traditional European culture by cutting it off from immigration from the Muslim world. While he is against setting up a Christian theocracy, he envisions a revival of Christendom, where the church helps unify Europeans around a shared cultural identity.
In the manifesto, Breivik references India dozens of times. He included a five-page paper written by a man named Shrinandan Vyas that argues the Muslim invaders committed a “genocide” of Hindus in the Hindu Kush region of present-day Afghanistan. Efforts to track down Mr. Vyas have failed.
Invasions by Muslims into South Asia did include bloodshed, but use of the term “genocide” is highly controversial.
But for B.P. Singhal, a retired BJP member of Parliament and noted Hindutva writer: “There was a wholesale massacre.”
He goes on to cite dramatic drops in the Hindu populations in Pakistan and Bangladesh since Partition of British India – figures that Breivik also gives in his manifesto. Mr. Singhal and Breivik share a critical belief: Muslim majorities always subjugate religious minorities.
“I was with the shooter in his objective, but not in his method,” says Singhal of Breivik. “If you want to attract the nation’s attention, surely you need to do something drastic and dramatic, but not killing people.”
But Singhal goes on to say that sometimes violence must be fought with violence. He says people upset by violent responses to Islam must "go one step more to find why [Breivik’s] violence came in. Why was that western Christian talking in bad terms about Islam?” He says it’s because of violent verses in the Koran that continue to be preached in an intolerant way.
Singhal said India and Norway should deny voting rights to foreigners or "foreign religionists," meaning Muslims. That would solve the “bane of democracy,” says Singhal, where politicians who are strict with groups like Muslims are voted out.
Breivik also proposed curbing voting rights within democracy, and both men view their ideological opponents in the media and universities as communists.
Singhal has not corresponded with Breivik, nor does he see much need for alliances to counter Islam’s spread: “Every country will have to find its own solutions,” he says.
It’s unclear as of yet who Breivik reached out to in India and what the depth of the interactions was. His manifesto says he is among 12 “knights” fighting within a dozen regions in Europe and the US, but not India. It’s not known yet whether this group, which he calls the Knights Templar Europe, actually exists.
Breivik describes months of tedious work farming “high quality” e-mail addresses off the Internet by friending networks “representing all spheres of cultural conservative thought” on Facebook, then acquiring members’ e-mail addresses. The goal appeared to be to generate a list to send his manifesto to just prior to his rampage.
Officials in India’s Home Ministry would not comment on whether they are tracking down Breivik’s e-mails to India. Mr. Swami, who has sources inside India’s intelligence community, told the Monitor that India does not have the capacity to do those traces easily until Norway provides information from Breivik’s computers.
“I’ve been trying to ask around if anyone knows about a substantial correspondence of any kind and haven’t come up with anything,” says Swami.
The Internet has made it easier for extremists to follow one another internationally, he points out. But, historically, European and Indian far right groups have not worked with each other – nor do they have much practical reason to cooperate now.
“I think irrespective of the Norwegian [attacks], the government needs to keep a much closer eye on the activities of the Hindu fundamentalist groups … and crack down on hate speech whether it’s Hindu, Muslim, or otherwise,” says Swami.