tisdag 26 juli 2011

Fundamentalists and fanatics

Oslo Royal Palace by seadipper
Oslo Royal Palace, a photo by seadipper on Flickr.
In 2007, the Royal Palace in Oslo did not even have railings around it. It would be nice if last Friday's tragedy did not change this, but it is unlikely.

Although the attack turns out to have been by a lunatic with allegiance to the extreme right, with an overtone of Christian fundamentalism, it is telling that the first assumptions were that it was the work of Islamic terrorism.

That is not course not to say that events like that in Oslo require any ideology at all to motivate them - personal grudges and hatreds are often sufficient. However, the perpetrators of these kinds of atrocities often turn out to have fed on a diet of hate literature. It comes in many forms. The extreme right has its own canon of this material, founded on a paranoid fear of difference. The far left looks to Marx and his insistence on the necessity of class warfare. Islam looks to the Koran, which, if not hate literature, contains passages which are potential incitements to hatred. The same can be said about the bible, but that is moderated by the mainstream churches, which can assert authoritatively, how potentially problematic passages are to be interpreted. The real difficulty with religious texts occurs in the absence of recognised authority. This is why Christian fundamentalism and Islam in general can lead people into trouble.

Usually, of course, it does not. But when mentally disturbed individuals get it into their heads to do something, whether on their own or in conjunction with other people, then nasty things are liable to happen.

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