Norway’s response to terrorism

A year after Norway’s terrorist attack, I’d say the Norwegians are demonstrating the appropriate way to respond to terrorism: by refusing to be terrorized.

“There have been no changes to the law to increase the powers of the police and security services, terrorism legislation remains the same and there have been no special provisions made for the trial of suspected terrorists.

On the streets of Oslo, CCTV cameras are still a comparatively rare sight and the police can only carry weapons after getting special permission.

Even the gate leading to the parliament building in the heart of Oslo remains open and unguarded.”

I wish Canada and the United States had been courageous enough to follow this model, instead of doubling down on the military-industrial complex approach. Rather than responding to terror with courage and resilience, we have been driven by fear to create huge and unaccountable security states that are ultimately more dangerous than terrorist groups.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

6 thoughts on “Norway’s response to terrorism”

  1. Confronting and undermining the narratives and ideas of extremism must therefore be one of our key tasks. To do this, we must retain the courage of our convictions in the face of extremism.

    Virtually all modern forms of extremism accuse liberal Western democratic systems of being hypocritical and, ultimately, weak. Al Qaeda portrays the West as anti-Islamic imperialists masquerading as promoters of democracy. Right wing extremism suggests the West is committing cultural suicide through its lax judicial system and naïve multiculturalism.

    Both have committed horrific acts designed to bait us into betraying our values and making them martyrs. In fact, it is remarkable to see the many similarities between these two sorts of extremism in their disdain for diversity and their indiscriminate violence against civilians.

    In this context, it is a mistake to treat crimes committed by extremists as exceptions, subject to special processes. They must be held accountable in accordance with and to the full extent of the law. Hiding suspects from public view merely dehumanizes the perpetrators and undermines any moral or judicial lessons.

  2. An example of over-reaction to terrorism is at the Olympics. The cost of security is extreme. I believe that approximately $500 million was spent on security in the Vancouver Winter Olympics – a significant portion of the costs of hosting the Games. This is an example of extremism. The IOC requires the host city to spend such vast amounts; yet the IOC does not fund the costs. These monies could be much better spent on social programs or simply not incurred.

  3. Regarding the Olympics, I think it would make sense to hold them in the same place every time. Perhaps somewhere neutral like Switzerland. That way, it wouldn’t be necessary to build expensive specialist facilities like bobsled tracks and velodrome in a new city each time.

  4. Norway faces a monster with dignity

    By Ronald Crelinsten, The Ottawa Citizen August 27, 2012

    Anders Breivik, by his own admission, committed a series of unspeakable acts in July of last year. On Friday, two months after a 10-week trial where he was allowed to explain his actions, a Norwegian court has declared that Anders Breivik is sane and sentenced him to 21 years in prison, the maximum allowed by Norwegian law.

    While many are shocked by the 21-year maximum, Norway has a provision for preventive detention in cases where the offender is deemed dangerous to society. The court imposed this sentence, so it is very likely that Breivik will stay in prison much longer than that, even for life.

    An initial court-ordered psychiatric evaluation before his trial declared that Breivik was psychotic and suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. In Norwegian law, any sign of psychosis at the time a crime is committed automatically means that the perpetrator cannot be punished.

    This finding was strongly disputed by outside experts, surviving victims and Norwegians in general, many of whom believed that he was sane and should be punished, not treated. Some feared that by declaring him insane, his ideas would be reduced to the ravings of a madman and Norwegians would lose an opportunity to confront the ideas that he espoused as a reflection of real — and dangerous — sentiments within the broader white supremacist movement and even the wider society.

  5. ONLY a year ago Jens Stoltenberg (above) seemed a humdrum prime minister anointed to statesmanship by a grateful public. His startling 94% approval rating from Norwegians came on the heels of an apparently faultless response to the twin terrorist attacks by Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people and maimed hundreds of others on July 22nd last year.

    While patently as horrified as other Norwegians by the Breivik atrocity, Mr Stoltenberg mustered the courage for a compellingly dignified response, vowing to counter intolerance with more openness and greater tolerance. His determination to hold firm to traditional Norwegian values struck a chord with most voters. The pride that the public felt in their prime minister’s performance was palpable on the streets of Oslo. He was briefly even more popular than the king.

  6. A security guard working for Sweden’s prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, has died in a shooting incident inside the prime minister’s heavily protected official residence, police in Stockholm said on Friday.

    Detectives said no crime was suspected and it is unclear whether the shooting was an accident or suicide. Reinfeldt was not there at the time, but government sources said one of the prime minister’s two teenage sons was in the building when the weapon was fired.

    “The Swedish PM and his family are fine. The prime minister was at a meeting in Stockholm. He wasn’t in the building,” Markus Friberg, Reinfeldt’s press secretary said.

    Security for top politicians in Sweden has been a major concern since the unsolved murder in 1986 of Sweden’s Social Democrat prime minister Olof Palme, and the murder in 2003 of the country’s foreign minister Anna Lindh. Lindh was shopping in a Stockholm department store without bodyguards when an assailant, Mijailo Mijailović, stabbed her several times. She died in hospital.

    Following security advice, Reinfeldt lives in a closely guarded official residence in central Stockholm. The immediate area around the building is closed to the public and the prime minister has two personal bodyguards at all times. Security was tightened last summer following the attack and mass shooting by the neo-Nazi Anders Behring Breivik in Norway.

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