|Anti-Muslim sentiment has become more and more outspoken across the West – especially since they gained a powerful platform through the Tea Party and other far-right groups[GALLO/GETTY]|
As Norway mourns the loss of at least 76 of its citizens in Friday’s bombing of government buildings in Oslo and mass shootings at a Labour Party youth camp, attention here has focused on the US bloggers and groups whose Islamophobic message appears to have fuelled the alleged perpetrator’s murderous rage.
Their identity was established through the online publication by the alleged terrorist, 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, of a 1,500-page manifesto entitled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence” purportedly authored by an “Andrew Berwick”.
All belong to what Toby Archer, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, referred to as a “transatlantic movement that often calls itself ‘the counter-jihad'” in an article published Monday by foreignpolicy.com.
“As his writings indicate, Breivik is clearly a product of this predominantly web-based community of anti-Muslim, anti-government and anti-immigration bloggers, writers and activists,” according to Archer.
He also noted that, in contrast to the traditional European right, this network tends to be philo-Semitic and supports the most extreme right-wing parties in Israel.
Particularly striking is the overlap between the US members of this network – all of whom are identified with the neo-conservative movement – with the leaders of last year’s controversial campaign to prevent the construction of a Muslim community centre near the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”.
The same bloggers and groups also actively promoted “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”, a film produced by the Clarion Fund, an apparent front for the far-right Israeli group Aish Hatorah, that compares the threat posed by radical Islam to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Some 28 million DVD copies of the video were distributed to households in key swing states on the eve of the 2008 president elections in an apparent effort to sway voters against Barack Obama.
At one point in his manifesto, Breivik referred readers to YouTube segments of all 10 parts of “Obsession”.
“As his writings indicate, Breivik is clearly a product of this predominantly web-based community of anti-Muslim, anti-government and anti-immigration bloggers, writers and activists.”
Toby Archer, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Among other sources cited by the manifesto, the “Jihad Watch” blog and its author, Robert Spencer, is cited no less than 162 times, while Daniel Pipes and his Middle East Forum (MEF) gets 16 mentions, according to a tally by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank here.
Another blogger, Pamela Geller, and her “Atlas Shrugs” blog is cited 12 times in the manifesto, while the Center for Security Policy (CSP), its president, Frank Gaffney, and CSP’s senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, Caroline Glick, appear a total of eight times.
All of them have sought to distance themselves both from Breivik and Friday’s terrorist acts since his identity first became known Saturday, and have furiously protested suggestions in the media that they bore any responsibility for what took place in Norway Friday.
Geller, who co-authored a book with Spencer last year that accused President Barack Obama of waging “war on America” (and for which the former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, wrote the foreword), called a front-page New York Times article that noted the couple’s frequent citations by Breivik “outrageous”.
“It’s like equating Charles Manson, who heard in the lyrics of [Beatles song] Helter Skelter a calling for the Manson murders,” she wrote on her atlasshrugs.com blog. “It’s like blaming the Beatles. It’s patently ridiculous.”
Citing the same Beatles-Charles Manson analogy, Spencer also expressed outrage on his jihadwatch.org blog both at Breivik’s alleged acts and the suggestion that he may have been responsible in some way for them.
Although he was only mentioned once in the manifesto, David Horowitz, whose David Horowitz Freedom Center, according to Politico, provided some US $920,000 to Jihad Watch in the latter part of the last decade, also defended Spencer on the far-right FrontPage website.
Most of that money was donated by the Fairbrook Foundation, which is run by Aubry and Joyce Chernick and which has funded other Islamophobic groups, including Pipes’ MEF, Gaffney’s CSP, and Aish Hatorah, as well as the far-right Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA), according to 2009 tax records. Indeed, many of the same funders – many of them right-wing Jews – have provided support to such Islamophobic organisations in recent years.
“Robert Spencer has never supported a terrorist act,” wrote Horowitz on FrontPage Monday. “His crime in the eyes of the left is to have told the truth about Islamic fanatics beginning with the Islamic prophet who called for the extermination of the Jews.”
For his part, Gaffney, who has long claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood is organising to impose Islamic law, or Shariah, on the West, including the United States, expressed concern on his centre’s website that “the wrong lessons will be learned from the mayhem” in Norway.
“The murderous attacks in Norway last week cry out for justice for the victims,” he wrote. “They also demand that Norway and other civilised nations respond thoughtfully – notably, by resisting the temptation to suppress those warning of encroaching sharia and, in the process, abet those who are striving to insinuate that totalitarian programme into freedom-loving lands.”
According to Archer, much of the larger trans-Atlantic network of which CSP, Spencer, Geller, Pipes, and Horowitz are a part was inspired by Bat Ye’or, a British-Swiss researcher whose 2005 book, “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis”, purports to describe “Europe’s evolution from a Judeo-Christian civilisation … into a post-Judeo- Christian civilisation that is subservient to the ideology of jihad and the Islamic powers that propagate it.”
As a concept, “Eurabia”, she said at a presentation at the neo-conservative Hudson Institute, is anti-Semitic and aimed against both Israel and the US. The book boasts favourable blurbs by Pipes, Spencer, the late Italian author Oriana Fallaci, and British historian Niall Ferguson, among others. Ye’or is cited 59 times in Breivik’s manifesto.
Some experts on US Islamophobic movements observed Monday that Breivik’s philo-Semitism and strong support for Israel were ironic, and not only because the far right in Europe historically has been anti-Semitic.
They said the manifesto’s repeated emphasis on “Cultural Marxism” as the great enemy of Western civilisation reflected the latest incarnation in a long line of essentially anti-Semitic conspiracy theories depicting a small group of Jews as the corrupters of native societies.
“Breivik is clearly a rabid Islamophobe, but it’s clear from the text that he has adopted a theory about ‘Cultural Marxism’ that argues that multiculturalism and political correctness are a conspiracy launched by Marxist Jews of the Frankfurt School in the 1930s, the result of which is Muslim immigration, which will destroy Norway and the rest of Europe and crush western Christian culture,” Chip Berlet, an analyst at Political Research Associates in Boston, said.
A veteran observer of far-right US groups, Berlet said Breivik’s manifesto echoed the themes set out in an open letter published by the late founder of the far-right Free Congress Foundation, Paul Weyrich, in 1999 in which he charged that “Cultural Marxism” as conceived by the Frankfurt School was “succeeding in its war against our culture”.
“Breivik is pro-Israel because he sees it as a bulwark against Islam,” he said. “I don’t think he’s personally anti-Semitic, but he’s adopted a conspiracy theory that is anti-Semitic.”
A version of this article was first published on Inter Press Service.
Jim Lobe‘s blog on US foreign policy can be read at http://www.lobelog.com.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.