On Wednesday, October 13, Espen Andersen Bråthen killed five people with a bow and arrow in Kongsberg, Norway. On Thursday, Norwegian police declared it an act of Islamic terrorism. But on Saturday, police inspector Per Thomas Omholt made a baffling announcement.
Even though Bråthen said in a 2017 video that he’s a Muslim, and has confirmed this to police since his arrest, Omholt expressed doubt about the conversion: “The hypothesis that he has converted to Islam has been weakened,” and the hypothesis that his actions can instead be explained by a mental disorder has been strengthened.
As I say, baffling. If Bråthen has declared flat-out that he is a Muslim, how is his conversion a mere “hypothesis”? Omholt explained: Bråthen doesn’t seem to have “taken the conversion very seriously. He has not followed up or used the traditions that are usual in the religion or culture.”
(That last sentence, by the way, is just as clumsy in the original Norwegian as it is in my English translation, and it reflects the awkwardness felt by many people of authority in the West when they’re obliged to deal with the reality of Islam.)
What does Omholt mean, exactly? He means, I fear, that the fix is in.
As it happens, on the day after the murder, the Conservative-led coalition government that has been in place since 2013 was replaced by a center-left coalition led by the Labor Party. For the Labor Party, the annual high holy day is July 22, the anniversary of the massacre of 77 people — mostly members of the Labor Party’s youth affiliate — by Anders Behring Breivik, who’d compiled a massive, loony anti-Muslim manifesto.
Breivik’s massacre was by far the largest terrorist act ever to take place in Norway. If the murders in Kongsberg — which have received a high level of media attention around the world — were to be declared an act of Islamic terrorism, they would qualify as a clear second.
The new prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, does not want to begin his term in office with Norway’s largest-ever act of Islamic terrorism on his front burner.
Muslims constitute a significant part of the Labor Party’s base. And “thousands of Norwegian Muslims,” according to NRK reporter Rahand Bazaz, are angry that the police publicly announced that Bråthen is a Muslim convert. An imam named Aziz Ahmedovic says that the police should have kept their mouths shut.
“We don’t need to know a murderer’s skin color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion,” complained a Muslim named Waqar Dal in an Instagram message shared by thousands of people in Norway.
By this logic, we should all have been kept in the dark about the beliefs and motives of the perpetrators of 9/11 and every act of Islamic jihad since. Indeed, we presumably shouldn’t even be allowed to use the words “Islamic jihad.”
“The fact that one claims to be a Muslim doesn’t automatically make one a Muslim,” complained the Norwegian Muslim Council. On the contrary, the first pillar of Islam is that you become a Muslim the moment you recite the Shahadah, which consists of a single sentence: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.”
Omholt to the contrary, being a Muslim doesn’t depend on following religious or cultural traditions. It depends entirely on that simple declaration of faith.
As Peder Jensen (“Fjordman”) observed on Saturday, the Norwegian media were eagerly going along with the mental-illness hypothesis. Yes, commented Jensen, Bråthen “seems a bit weird and unbalanced. But is he crazier than Anders Behring Breivik? That’s highly doubtful.”
Of course, ten years ago it was in the Labor Party’s interest to have Breivik declared sane, and thus be able to use him to discredit all critics of Islam, who could be accused of having created this murderer. Therefore, after a psychiatric panel pronounced Breivik insane, another panel was brought in to pronounce him sane, and therefore subject to prosecution in a court of law.
This time around, however, Labor — and the Labor-leaning media — desperately want Bråthen to be crazy: a nutbag run amok, and not a Muslim terrorist. And if they want this, it’ll probably happen. Because, as Jensen bluntly but truthfully put it, “[t]he Norwegian justice system, partly including the police, is heavily politicized.”
As noted, the police didn’t officially start backing off from the terrorism hypothesis until Saturday. But the new prime minister, Støre, was way ahead of them, suggesting on Thursday morning, mere hours after the atrocity, that it was the product of mental illness.
In a long, probing article on Friday, Julie Dahle of Human Rights Service pointed out a fascinating fact: over a brief period in recent years, as the Norwegian psychiatric establishment became increasingly disinclined to institutionalize psychiatric patients over the long term, there occurred an “explosion of Norwegian converts to Islam.”
Why? Because mentally ill people who felt alienated from mainstream society felt a need for confinement within a framework that felt safe and secure and that seemed to offer a feeling of community. Dahle quoted a convert who told Aftenposten in 2015 that people like her need “guidelines, consequences in the form of punishment or reward, something to believe in.”
And Islam offers precisely that. The problem is that once your deep-seated needs have led you to embrace the framework of Islam with all your heart and mind, you feel driven to strictly obey the rules that make up that framework — the rules that say that, among other things, adultery, apostasy, and homosexuality should be punished with death, that women should cover themselves up in public, and that a girl who brings dishonor upon her family should be executed in cold blood.
In short, Islam provides justification for the use of violence. It’s the reason why brutally slaughtering one’s daughter for being alone with a boy for ten minutes — an act that would be considered utterly insane in the West — would be viewed in tribal Pakistan as eminently proper.
It’s also the reason why converts to Islam are outrageously overrepresented in Norwegian crime statistics.
In the West, psychiatrists have often viewed such converts as having been “brainwashed.” But this means treating them as passive subjects of manipulation. Does a Muslim convert cease to be a legitimate Muslim convert, and a human being with agency, the moment he actually acts upon his new belief system by committing an act of jihad in accordance with the sacred directives of the Prophet himself?
The problem here, alas, is that too many people in positions of authority in the Western world — from politicians to police officers to psychiatrists — are loath to admit aloud that Islam does preach violence, and that violence, in fact, when it takes certain forms and occurs in certain contexts, is a normal, accepted, and even obligatory part of Islamic culture.
Consequently, to think that, in a case like Bråthen’s, Islam can somehow be neatly excised from the picture and his crimes attributed solely to psychiatric issues is to miss the point entirely.
From a modern Western perspective — and this is me, not Julie Dahle or anyone else, speaking — Islam is a psychiatric disorder. If we’d all understood that long ago, we’d all be a lot safer now, and a great many people who are no longer among us would still be alive.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if the new Norwegian government, or the old Norwegian media, are remotely interested in helping anybody to understand anything about Islam. Au contraire, as we say in Norwegian. Even as the police and politicians seem to be prepared to treat Bråthen as a psychiatric patient, the mainstream media appear to be moving on to other stories. After the 2011 massacre, it was all Breivik, all the time, for weeks; now, the Norwegian media are apparently determined to drop Bråthen — and especially his Muslim identity — down the memory hole.
It’s interesting to scrutinize the similarities between the Kongsberg massacre and the assassination two days later of Sir David Amess, a member of Parliament who was meeting with constituents in a Methodist church in Leigh, a town in Essex.
Like the Kongsberg victims, Amess was killed by a Muslim — in this case, a 25-year-old “Briton with Somali heritage.” As with Kongsberg, the murder of Amess was declared a day later to be an act of Islamic terrorism.
And in Britain, as in Norway, you can already see the media and the political class trying to treat this as something other than a successor to the deadly jihadist actions at the Atocha in Madrid, the promenade in Nice, the Bataclan in Paris, and elsewhere since 9/11.
You can see them deflecting. Instead of pondering the continuing threat of Islamic terror, the British media are talking about whether MPs need more protection. Naturally, they wouldn’t need any protection if there weren’t 2.5 million Muslims in the UK.
Norway has the precedent of Breivik in 2011; Britain has the precedent of the 2016 murder of Labor Party MP Jo Cox. As Brendan O’Neill recalled on Saturday, Cox’s killing “by an extremist right-winger … was ruthlessly politicised … to the cause of demonising Brexit”; by contrast, jihadist atrocities in the UK, such as the Manchester Arena bombing and London Bridge truck-ramming incidents, both in 2017, “were never politicised,” and “those who tried to politicise them … were written off as racist and Islamophobic.”
And, well, here we go again. The more terrorist atrocities are committed by Muslims in North America and Europe, the more accustomed we become to it all, and the more effort our left-wing politicians — increasingly beholden to constantly growing Muslim voting blocs — put not into trying to prevent such atrocities but into trying to prevent serious public discussion of the issue of Islam in the West.