Far-right reactions to the Norway attacks
As I mentioned in my previous blog this weekend, a colleague and myself were in Denmark last week researching the Danish far right as part of a large project Demos is conducting into the rise of far-right street-based movements across Europe. In addition to country visits (as in Denmark), we are conducting the largest ever survey of far-right activists and sympathisers. We’ve taken a cursory look at how far-right groups in Denmark have reacted to the tragic attacks in Norway.
Far-right extremism – and formal political parties – has been on the rise in Scandinavia in the past ten years. In Denmark, we found a far-right scene that was fragmented and in flux. All of the groups were quite small, and they ranged from Nazi football hooligan groups to ‘nationalist’ groups, from lobbying organisations to formal political parties. Den Danske Forening considers itself a lobbying organisation that focuses on presenting the facts around immigration, namely demographic projects and crime statistics involving immigrants. Vederfolner is a group of approximately 200 to 300 paying members (with between 20 and 30 active members) that organises against immigration and in particular Muslim immigration, due to their belief that Muslim culture and Danish culture are irreconcilable. A number of their members include ex-members of the Nazi football hooligan group White Pride. Both organisations argue for repatriation of all immigrants unwilling to integrate into Danish society and a stopping of all further immigration.
There are also a range of Nazi groups in addition to White Pride, including the Danish National Socialists (DNSB) and the Danish National Front. Both of these organisations are small and disorganised. The most interesting development in Denmark, according to experts, is the formation of a new party called the Danskernes Partie (or The Danes’ Party), which was just formed in the previous months by a new up-and-coming leader in the movement, 21-year old Daniel Carlsen. Carlsen used to be a member of the Nazi DNSB, but now describes himself as a ‘modern nationalist’ seeking to dissociate himself from Nazi connotations, focusing instead on a rejection of Islam.
There is no doubt that the Norway attacks have shaken these groups to the core. Suddenly they are under a glaring spotlight, and we were keen to know how they would react. Particularly because, without a doubt, each of these groups shares the views and diagnosis of the Norway terrorist Anders Breivik. Yesterday my Danish colleague spent the day trawling through their discussion forums and comparing the reactions. The results are fascinating.
Some groups – like Vederfolner – have remained completely and eerily silent. There has been expressions of support among the Nazi groups like DNSB and Danish National Front. Some comments from a Nazi forum praised him, saying that finally someone has taken real action, also claiming it would be better if it had been a mosque or something, but it's still something. Comments on the forum of DNSB offer their condolences, but essentially dismiss whether Breivik is in fact a ‘far-right extremist’, rather claiming that he is a Christian Fundamentalist Freemason. Den Danske Forening, the lobbying organisation, and probably the largest and longest-running of the far-right groups, only address the incident through a brief sentimental announcement. The announcement is small on the front page, dwarfed by a badly grainy photo apparently depicting a ‘Muslim burning Christians’. Failing to condemn Breivik’s acts, the statement instead claims that the politicians who allowed immigration to this stage, thus sparking Breivik’s anger, are the one’s who should be held responsible.
Perhaps most interesting of all has been the response of the new Danskernes Parti. Carlsen was described to us by a number of people as being incredibly charming and media savvy. In an official statement, Carlsen claims that he is:
“Shaken by the massacre and also by the fact that the guy calls himself a nationalist. Danskerne's Parti work for safety, family and their homeland and the terrorist has made Norway unsafe, ruined Norwegian families and bombed his own homeland. He's not a nationalist, he's a madman.”
Comments on the Danskernes Parti website pretty much universally condemn Breivik’s actions and claim that he is not a true Nationalist because he attacked his own people. To describe his actions, the commentators focus on the fact that he is a Freemason, describing him as being ‘pro-Jewish’. One person claims that he must have been influenced by Mossad because ‘white people generally aren’t murders’. Other comments believe the media coverage to be biased, making the attacks sound more horrific because they were carried out by a right-winger, and claiming they wouldn’t display the same outrage if done by the left. Another comment, as with Den Danske Forening, claims he is ‘repulsed’ that left-wing politicians were gathering outside the Norwegian embassy because they are equally to blame for allowing immigration into the country and thus pushing Breivik to the edge.
These attacks are clearly a watershed moment for these groups, and will continue to split what is an already fragmented group.