Ode To A Herring Sandwich

Those outside of Sweden are often spared the joy of hearing the views of the members of the Sweden Democrats, but now that one of them has been elected deputy speaker of the Swedish Riksdag it is in both the wider public interest and in keeping with this blog’s intent to share thoughts on political communication to reproduce some of their more remarkable public utterances. 

So to mark the ascension of Björn Söder to the position of deputy speaker, I have translated a blog post from the original Swedish that apparently has since been deleted. 

Söder, a senior member of the Sweden Democrat party started by neo-Nazis among others in 1988, is a man of strong views – among them that homosexuality is an aberration and that Islam is the single greatest threat to Western civilisation.

His politics could accurately be described as the kind of cultural conservatism beloved of the likes of Anders Behring Breivik and UKIP. 

In this post, Söder proclaims his love for Swedish culture through the medium of a herring sandwich at the Malmö festival, before deploring the “dark clouds” of multiculturalism. 

Björn Söder – likes herring. Dislikes gays.

The sun shone and spread its pleasant rays over my shoulders. Though it was half past seven on a Wednesday night it felt like the heat had finally arrived.

It was, after all, one of the first warm evenings, even though it was in the month of August.

The train was already in the station. Everywhere there were people walking and running who were on their way to Malmö to take part in the festival. Along with my girlfriend and some friends, I got on the train.

Outside the Scania countryside passed by.


Farms and houses looked like palaces and temples of the Swedish summer heat. The trees and fields appeared one after the other and stood in contrast to the clear blue sky.

Feeling a part of that environment felt wonderful.  My thoughts began to turn to my ancestors, who along with others had worked hard to create such a heavenly realm like this.

I could feel a little pride swell in me. A pride in being Swedish. To have been born Swedish. Of having ancestors who built Sweden.

My thoughts were interrupted. The train slowed down at Malmö Central Station. We got out of the train and walked towards the city center.

There was life everywhere. People went back and forth across the streets and the cars had trouble getting around. We were met by people from some company that was about to the dragon boat competition.

They sang and whistled and the people in front of them moved out of the way to avoid being trampled upon. We followed in their wake – this way we avoided the throng of others, and were on our way to watch the competition.

It was now eight o’clock and my stomach began to rumble for food. During festivals usually it’s not a problem finding something to eat, and it wasn’t a problem this time either – if you want to eat something exotic and foreign, of course.

Everywhere there were foreign food. Latin food, tacos, busesca, falafel, Indian delicacies, Thai dishes, Nigerian specialties, kebab and more.

But where was the Swedish food? Is the traditional Swedish cooking so bad and boring that no one wants it? I searched frantically.

I had decided that if I could not find anything Swedish to eat then my stomach would have to put up with being hungry.

Suddenly. I saw a small light in the otherwise dark surroundings. “Herring Sandwiches” was written on the sign. I walked up with urgent steps. Past all the food stalls that smelled of garlic.

I felt a joy. The joy of that there was still Swedish food to be had. I threw down a twenty-crown note for my sandwich.

I received it and felt the wonderful smell of herring. Well worth the price, I let the sandwich disappear down my gullet, and a few moments later felt the satisfaction in my stomach.

Surely there is one and two other bright spots here at the festival, I thought, and proceeded to saunter.

After looking around for about another hour, we decided to head for home. You could feel the air getting slightly cooler and damper now that the sun had gone down.

We went over to Gustav Adolf Square. Outside McDonald’s, dark clouds gathered. By all accounts, it was probably a meeting place, or rather, a haunt for all the world’s different peoples – except the Swedes, of course.

Where the Swedes were gone I do not know. Then we crossed the square and went into a pedestrian area, and it was clear to me that the Swedes had fled the field.

Everywhere there were big black clouds in the otherwise clear night. The sound of the South American and Indian music mixed with languages from around the world, and the feeling that you were in a land far, far away grew.

Nowhere was there a bright cloud to be seen. The dark clouds hung everywhere.

My stomach was turning upside down and the tears started running down my cheeks. The pride in being Swedish that I had felt earlier in the evening had now given way to a hate inside.

Not a hatred of the people who were there, but a hatred of the decision-makers who caused it as my eyes now beheld. These decision-makers had not shown my ancestors any respect.

They had not taken any account of what the Swedish people – including me – thought. They had done what they wanted. They wanted to create a multicultural society.

With the tears on my cheeks, I hurried past through the darkness along with the others.

The evening had now changed from a warm, bright summer evening to a cold and dark night.

We got on the train to go home. The train was full of people. Many others had apparently also planned to go home.

I understand them.

Life begins again as Breivik goes down

Germany’s foreign minister lays a wreath at Oslo cathedral to remember the 77 people murdered by Anders Behring Breivik.

There is an expression in Norwegian that has always intrigued me.

It’s interjected into sentences, much the same way as Londoners use “innit” or Dubliners “you know what I mean.”

In Norwegian, it’s “ikke sant?”

Literally translated, it means “not true,” but Norwegians use it as a conversational question with the tone rising on the last syllable.

It’s a clever, almost passive-aggressive way of getting people to agree with you.

It is, it seems, a much more effective method of doing so than, say, terrorism.

It wasn’t needed yesterday though, as almost everyone was delighted that Anders Behring Breivik was found to be sane and criminally liable for the deaths of 77 innocent people – many of them children in the eyes of the law – and sentenced to 21 years in prison.

For the record, the chances of him ever coming out of prison are up there with Elvis returning to play 18 holes on the moon.

In their verdict, the five judges sentenced him to 21 years “preventative detention” and said that there was a very strong possibility that he would remain a threat to society even after his tariff is served; if he is, his detention can be extended for five years at a time.

He will never walk the streets of Oslo as a free man again.

The reaction on the streets was a mixture of fatigue and relief.

People are sick of being asked about him. Sick of hearing about him, and what he did. Sick of trying to work out what his actions say about Norway, and themselves.

But the relief now outweighs that. That Anders Behring Breivik wasn’t shot dead in the dirt of Utoya – like so many of his victims – is a good thing for the healing process in Norway.

If he had been, he would have been martyred for the cause of extreme nationalism, and we would never have understood what made him carry out such unspeakable acts.

But over the ten weeks of his trial we have come to understand him better – his callousness, his twisted logic, his hatred.

We have seen a vanity in him that would make Narcissus blush. And we have seen a total lack of empathy with his victims.

At times we have seen behind the facade – the obsessive organising of  paper and pens before he answered the judge’s question about whether or not he accepted the verdict, quickly followed by the flash of darkness as he attempted to apologise to fellow extreme nationalists for not killing even more innocent children.

Most of all, we saw the smile as the verdict was announced. Breivik welcomed the verdict with something between a grimace and a smirk.

In his own mind, he was victorious yesterday in Court 250 of Oslo’s Tinghus, but it was the people of Norway that won.

And over the next 21 years, Breivik will have plenty of time to reflect over why his actions haven’t launched the war on immigrants he so longed for, and why the people of the blood he was so intent of protecting have rejected him, and all he stands for.

Oslo is a small city, and in the early afternoon I left the courthouse are to walk to the cathedral.

I watched as the German foreign minister laid a wreath at the large red heart that stands in memories of those killed by the hateful, pudgy, vain Breivik.

He, like the rest of the civilised world, rejected Breivik.

And on the way back to the courthouse the ordinary people of Norway spoke of how they wanted to put this behind them and start rebuilding the safe, harmonious society that was blown away by Breivik’s bombs and bullets.

And that is something we can all support them in, ikke sant?

So Anders Behring Breivik is sane, according to Norwegian psychologists. Now we – and he – will get what we wanted.

A trial to determine his guilt for the bomb blast at government buildings and the massacre at Utoya.

Whatever happens there, Breivik will surely – hopefully – grow old under lock and key, either in a mental institution or in prison.

In allowing him to do so, rather than exact the kind of revenge that society sometimes feels entitled to, he will prove invaluable.

His would be no good to us at the end of a rope.

Instead, Breivik’s trial will drag his warped ideology out into the light and show it up for what it is.

The result will be that many of those who propagate the same hateful nonsense – the likes of the BNP and the Sweden Democrats – will be shown up for what they are.

Of all modern mass murderers, Breivik is perhaps the one we can learn most from.

Once the judgement falls and he is condemned to incarceration for a considerable period of time, we can go back to studying what made him carry out these appalling attacks. He has already told us much, and there is a lot more to learn.

He detailed his plans meticulously. His logic, his politics and his methods were recorded in minute detail.

In doing so, not only will they be used as evidence to stop him from ever committing such deeds again, they will hopefully ensure that we see the warning signs the next time someone starts down his path.

He will no doubt try – as he has already promised – to use his trial to ignite hatred and mistrust against muslims and foreigners. There is little evidence that he will succeed; in the months since his attacks, few voices have been raised in support.

Instead, the opposite has happened. Scandinavian parties of the far right are so scared of being identified with him that they have seemingly abandoned their arguments against multiculturalism, for the time being at least. They do not mention him by name, but nor do they mention radical Islam or muslims.

Breivik’s bomb and bullets have closed off that particular populist avenue to them, and it is now only in the darkest corners of internet message boards that they dare discuss it.

But were Norway’s laws otherwise, Breivik might have been condemned to die for his actions, and given the far right a richly-undeserved martyr to their cause.

The show trial of Saddam Hussein and his subsequent grisly execution might have been improved upon in Breivik’s case, but the end result would have been the same- the permanent removal of the one person who holds the answers to the questions civilised society now asks itself.

Instead, it looks like he will, in his arrogance, explain his reasoning entirely. It will make for hard listening for the families of the dead, and for the Norwegian people, but ultimately it will be a lesson for all of us about what happens when hate is allowed to go unchallenged and unchecked.


How quickly we forget

It all seems so long ago now.

A week or two ago, we were filled with anger and anguish, despair and indignation at two deaths.

The death of Gary Speed- one of the only true nice guys in football- had us reeling as it forced us once again to confront the unknowable that is suicide.

The death of Kate Fitzgerald did something similar.

But the nature of her passing went several steps further, coming as it did after her article about her struggle with depression and her perceptions of her employer’s attitude towards her illness became the story.

The furore was a passionate as it was short-lived. The Irish Times was loudly pilloried for pulling a sheet over her corpse and telling us “there’s nothing to see here”.

The stony silence of Terry Prone  and the rest at the Communications Clinic- who have still to make any public comment on the matter – says it all. There is no more story. There is nothing to see here.

In journalism, one of the most prized talents is also one of the most indefinable and elusive- that of “news sense”. In a good journalist, editor or subeditor, it is the ability to observe a story with laser-like precision and decide whether or not it is worth investing resources in.

That’s the first part. The latter part is knowing when to get out of a story with impeccable timing – when there’s nothing left but an empty shell. When there’s nothing to see here.

An example – I’ll be in Oslo again next week, and I can guarantee two things. People there will be weary of talking to the media about Anders Behring Breivik. And the foreign media will no longer be there.

What a difference from a few months ago, when the quietest city of them all was the centre of a media maelstrom. But the story is gone. There is nothing to see here.

For once, I question the judgement, the news sense of those far more talented than I.

I think, in relation to the deaths of Gary Speed and certainly in relation to Kate Fitzgerald, there most certainly is something to see here.

So I’m going to go against the grain for another little while and keep writing about Kate and Gary. In particular, there are still things we need to know about Kate’s situation.

One question I’d like to see answered centres on the paradox of why The Communications Clinic now has nothing to say about Kate or depression, or anything, when a few short months ago Gay Mitchell- a presidential candidate apparently schooled by them – was talking up his interest in mental health and how he would put suicide at the top of the agenda in the Aras.

For all his foghorning then, Gay seems very silent on the matter now- as do the rest of the candidates.

But I wonder did he ever meet Kate Fitzgerald during his media training? I wonder did he know of her illness? I wonder did he think of her on the campaign trail when he was making those statements?

Maybe Gay is displaying impeccable news sense. Maybe he’s moved on. But I don’t intend to, not yet.

I may not get very far, because sometimes it’s not just news sense that kills a story. Sometimes there are other reasons that we as journalists decide that there is nothing more to see here.

But this time, I’m not buying it. Not yet.

Ten years after, still light years apart

Apologies for the recent bout of radio silence – suffice to say that having my first book published has proved to be more work than I expected.

For me, being a writer and working in communications is the best job imaginable, but like most people in my situation, I have to keep producing in order to survive.

Thankfully, this work takes my to the heart of the things and places and ideas that appeal to me.

Ten days ago, my work brought me back to Oslo for the first time since Anders Behring Breivik shattered the peace with his bomb and his guns.

What I saw surprised and comforted me in equal measure.

No lockdown at the airport.

No armed police on every street corner.

No security guards in the lobby of the hotel by the central station.

No sense of fear and foreboding.

Whereas terrorist attacks in New York and London provoked fear and loathing and a lust for revenge, the Norwegian people have heeded the call of prime minister Jens Stoltenberg.

More democracy.

In short, in the aftermath of Breivik’s attacks, little has changed.

Long after the flowers left in memory of those who died have wilted, those feelings inspired by Stoltenberg’s reaction to the horror remain strong.

More dialogue. More understanding. More compromise.

There is still, of course, opposition to immigration in some quarters. These things don’t disappear overnight.

The difference is that that debate is now stripped of the dangerous provocative rhetoric that is still on the rise in other European countries.

Whereas the rest of Europe engages in megaphone diplomacy, shouting from its entrenched positions on left and right, Norway is in reasoned conversation with itself.

The very fact that a country that had the heart ripped out of it only a few short weeks ago can do so is proof that Behring Breivik and his extremist counterparts have lost the ideological battle he claimed to be waging; they have been shown up for the irrational, illogical, selfish demagogues they are.

His manifesto, the much-hyped handbook of the hard right, has proved not to be the new European testament; instead, it is the narcissistic ravings of a thankfully small minority.

The silence from the Sweden Democrats is perhaps the greatest symbol of all; for such parties, there is nothing left to say that hasn’t been drowned out by Breivik’s bombs and bullets.

In his fury, Breivik has killed the thing he loved the most; his vision of the re-establishment of an ethnically pure Scandinavia died along with his victims.

The calm that quickly returned to the Oslo streets is in sharp contrast to yesterday’s scenes in New York. Ten years ago, America’s answer to a similar attack was the “war on terror”.

Yesterday, they gathered at Ground Zero to remember- “never forget” was the mantra.

For the hundreds of thousands who have lost their lives since that awful day – British and American servicemen and women among them – “never forgive” may have been more appropriate.

SInce 9/11 the discourse in the US has hardened considerably, and political positions remain as entrenched as ever.

Domestically at least, peace is till a long way off.

What tends to get forgotten is that after 9/11 America started a war on terror, and wound up at a war with itself.

The fear, distrust and loathing aimed at the likes of Mohammed Atta and Bin Laden and selfishly nurtured by both sides are now directed at the other side of the House. Ten years on, democracy is still held hostage by their legacy.

In Oslo, peace has already returned. In the face of a similar unspeakable evil, common sense prevailed.

The reason? More democracy.

Those few short hours in Oslo were enough to convince me that if something as precious as democracy is worth fighting for, fighting for it should be our very last last resort.

The answer? More democracy

One dead in London, 77 dead in Norway, but the answer to both is the same.

More democracy.

There is no excuse for what is going on in London right now. Nothing can possibly justify the thieving and wanton destruction sparked by the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of the police.

Maybe in the beginning it was about the death of a black man in suspicious circumstances, but that has long since ceased to be.

Now it’s about fear and power and violence and theft and control of the streets. It is the antithesis of democracy.

There may be no excuse,  but there is a cause for the rioting, and in a minority of cases it is a sense of helplessness.

Many feel that the democratic system and the state it serves is unrepresentative of their needs.

That is not to say that a revolution is needed. Great Britain’s parliamentary democracy may be flawed, but it is robust enough to stand the test of time.

Those who operate within it are not.

Ever since the advent of “New Labour” and “the Big Society”, people – especially working class people – have gradually felt more and more disenfranchised.

All the major parties have bought into the PR idea that a united front must be presented at all times – there is to be no overt dissent. No deviation from the party line. There is no place for anyone who disagrees.

Such a ham-fisted kills effectively drowns politics at birth. As a result, no-one in Labour is allowed to speak of legislating to make life better for the underclasses for fear of spooking “the markets”.

No-one in the Conservative party is allowed to mention immigration or crime or fearing old age, unless it has first been put through a tumble-dryer of spin and had the creases ironed out before being presented to the public, sanitised and cleansed for public consumption.

At a political level, people need to be allowed to speak freely, and they need to trust that their political representatives will not water down their ideas and opinions as they are passed up the line.

They need to be able to express their anger and frustration through their democratically-elected politicians at local and national level.

They need to recognise themselves in public debate, to see their ideas presented and dealt with in public- openly, transparently and accountably.

What they do not need is leaders, politicians and policies de-fanged and de-clawed, robbed of all the passion and urgency that made them worthy of discussion in the first place.

At best, people disengage from politics and leave it to those who understand how to manipulate the system for their benefit.

At worst, they turn to extremism and violence, like Mohammed Sidiqe Khan and Anders Behring Breivik.

People need to see government by consensus, whereby a good idea is a good idea, regardless of which side of the house it came from.

After all, what is the point of having a voice if it never gets heard or acknowledged?

Governing by consensus does not and should not mean that we agree on every single point – it means that people must be allowed to disagree before the best solution to a problem is found.

And whether that solution comes from the House of Lords or a high-rise in Brixton should make no difference.

Believe it. It happened.

Just one of the hundreds of thousands of roses at the Oslo gathering on July 25.

The discussion about what happened in Oslo and Utoya will continue for days and months and years, but already at this point change needs to happen.

When we talk about it, we need to stop saying “it’s unbelievable”, “it’s without reason” and “who would do such a thing?”.

Believe it. It happened.

We know who did it.

And however twisted, there were reasons.

Though it’s a term I’ve used myself, we need to stop characterising Anders Behring Breivik as a madman.

That’s not because he wasn’t, but because every time we describe him as one we are absolving ourselves of our responsibility to understand why he did what he did.

No more than Mohammed Atta, Bin Laden or Timothy McVeigh, Breivik didn’t just fall out of the sky.

He is the product of a family, a school, a church, a university. He had friends, he likes soccer and he worked out.

But he went a little further than the rest of us. He went further than the vast majority of people could in their worst nightmares imagine.

Somewhere along the line, something awakened a hatred of his fellow man in him – not just a hatred of Muslims.

He hated all of those whose politics differed from his, even if they were mere children. He sentenced them to death.

He executed them.

What is unique about Breivik is that he wants us to understand what he did. Unlike many mass murderers, especially those who have gone on shooting sprees, he did not take his own life, but instead surrendered to police.

He can now be interviewed, studied, analysed. He can explain his motivation to us.

And in his staggering arrogance, he has even given us a 1500-page explanation of his entire ideology and method – meant to inspire others to follow in his footsteps, it is vital ammunition in the fight against all violent extremists, and not just those of the anti-Islamic far right.

He will give us even more. What he longs for most of all is to speak from the dock, with the world’s press present, to put forward his ideology to the world.

He sees himself as a martyr to his cause, yet somehow he remains blind to the remarkable similarities between himself and the radical Islamists and “cultural Marxist” bogeymen he claims he wants to destroy.

Breivik claims in his writing that he has spent the last nine years planning this attack.

Nine and a half years ago, in September 2001, two planes struck the Twin Towers in Manhattan.

Anders Behring Breivik was probably sitting in front of his television, listening to the pundits telling him that what he was seeing was “unbelievable”, “without reason” and “impossible to understand”.

“Who would do such a thing?” they asked.

When Anders found out that it was radical Islamists, he believed it. He found a reason.

Then he sent out on a path that led him to Utoeya.

To stop others – on both sides – following his path, we need to understand.

We need to believe it. We need to accept that there are people who do such things.

We need to realise that, even though they are madmen, they are someone’s father or son or husband.

And we need to find a way to stop them coming to the same extreme convictions that Breivik has.

A minute’s silence not enough for some

Norwegian emergency services interrupt their work to honour the dead, 1200, July 25 2011.

At 1200 today Scandinavia stood still.

A minute’s silence was observed, to honour those that fell in Oslo and Utoeya, victims of the bombs and bullets of Anders Behring Breivik.

But some have been silent an awful lot longer than that.

While Siv Jensen, leader of Fremsrkittspartiet (the Progress Party, Norway’s right-wing anti-immigration party) was quick to distance herself and her party from their former party colleague’s actions, others barely put their head above the parapet.

Take Jimmie Åkesson for instance.

One might expect the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats – the Swedish answer to Fremskrittspartiet – to try to distance himself and his party from Breivik’s actions.

Their reaction so far has been one press release, one tweet to publicise said press release, and after that – nothing.

Total silence.

Nowhere on the party’s website does Jimmie or the party encourage the membership or supporters to take part in the minute’s silence.

Indeed, the only mention of the tragedy on the Twitter feeds I’ve seen is in reaction to those who try to shine a light on them.

Uniformly, their response is to accuse those who disagree with them of being “tasteless” – a very interesting choice of words from the people who made this election ad for TV (article continues below):


One would think that, as leader of a far-right party that undeniably shares many of Breivik’s views, Åkesson might take the opportunity to express his condolences and try to put some daylight between his party and the hateful, illogical philosophy of Islamophobia that drove the gunman to such deeds.

Instead, nothing.

The vacuum of Åkesson’s silence allows plenty of room for speculation as to why he and his party have chosen to remain silent.

The reason is not hard to work out – Breivik’s actions have presumably not affected him or the party’s policies in the slightest.

His far-right convictions and his Islamophobia – the irrational fear of Muslims – remain untouched by what has happened in Norway.

If the reactions of some of his supporters to a blog post on the Moderate party website are anything to go by, this is in fact a validation of what they believe. Muslims are, as always, to blame.

It’s not so long ago that Åkesson was writing in Aftonbladet about how Islam was the greatest threat to Swedish and European civilisation.

He trotted out the same tired lies about how Sweden was the rape capital of the world, and that Muslims were over-represented in crime statistics.

That the Swedish police make or keep no record of a criminal’s religion or ethnicity was ignored. He was making it up.

His words about “Sweden’s multicultural elite” are echoed in the madman’s manifesto, released by Breivik moments before he changed Norway forever.

Those frightened by Åkesson’s words ran to the ballot box and put an X beside his name.

The rest of us opened our windows and looked outside; not seeing hordes of Mohammedan rapists pillaging their way through our communities, we voted for someone else.

If Jimmie and the rest are serious about being democrats, they and anyone who has or would consider voting for them have a responsiblity to take an honest look back over their public pronouncements and their policies.

The time has come for everyone in politics to abandon the extremist rhetoric, to stop the hunt for the paper tigers and instead focus on what brings us together, rather than what sets us apart.

For just as Anders Behring Breivik is not representative of Norway, of her people, of Christianity or of conservative politics, nor can it be said that any one individual is representative of Islam, or any other religion, or anything else for that matter.

But as their elected leader, Jimmie does represent the Sweden Democrats, and at the moment his silence his saying more than he thinks.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”- Edmund Burke. 

The longest night

For some, it won’t start until after the last of the funerals are over.

For others, it will start when they close their eyes and try to sleep.

Tonight, many of the survivors will have returned to their homes, spread all over Norway and separated from many of their comrades.

No longer will they be in the company of those with whom they shared the nightmare.

They have come back to a world that does not – and cannot – understand.

They will feel the joy and relief of having made it back to their families alive, of seeing loved ones that, for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, they thought they would never see again.

But when the lights go out, many of them will see the faces of those who didn’t make it.

The desperate faces of their friends who fell all around them as they tried to escape the madman’s bullets.

The anguish and the fear and the helplessness they felt on the island will return with full force.

Why did they survive, when so many others fell?

Why did he not single them out for execution?

Is it even worth going on when so many they knew and loved are now gone forever?

For some, there will be shame.

Did I push someone out of the way as I scrambled for survival?

Did I slow someone down?

Is there an empty bed in an empty room in some other family’s house tonight because of what I did to survive?

Others will lie in hospital beds, recovering from their wounds and thinking of how close they came to losing the most precious thing they have.

They will remember lying still with the dead all around them, desperately trying not to breathe as he walked among them.

Flinching as the phone rang in their pocket, longing to answer it but knowing that if they were to pick it up, it could be the last thing they ever did.

For many, this will be the first night of many where such thoughts steal their way in through the darkness.

Some will soon get over it. Many will carry it forever.

For this is what terrorism does.

And this is why it cannot be allowed to win.

The beginning or the end?

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

Having spent most of the night reading Anders Behring Breivik’s monocultural manifesto, everything is much clearer.

And much as 9/11 was a defining moment for radical Islam, this is a defining moment for what Breivik calls “cultural conservatism” and the far right in Europe.

It is both easy and lazy to dismiss his actions of those of a madman – and many media outlets have already done so – but this only serves to further his cause.

Breivik’s actions in Oslo and Utoeya may be those of a madman, but they also amount to a bold play for dominance of the doctrine and dogma of the European far right.

In doing so, he is sending two messages – one to the vast majority of us, and the other to those who share his beliefs.

For those of us that recoil in horror from his actions, his racism, his fascist tendencies and his violence, his message is fear. He wants us to be afraid of the consequences of not following his path.

For those who agree with him, his message is inspiration and hope – he hopes that they will see his example and note that it can be done, if they follow his 1500-page manifesto that was nine years in the making.

But like Bin Laden, that is where he is wrong.

9/11 may have been the greatest “victory” in the history of radical Islam, but it also marked the beginning of the end.

For in poking the hornets’ nest, Al Quaeda provoked a retaliation that has been both comprehensive and brutal. Radical Islam as envisioned by Bin Laden is all but over.

So too with Breivik. What he hopes will be the first shots in the final battle with multiculturalism could well prove to be the first nail in the coffin of the hard-right ideology embodied by the likes of the Progress Party, the True Finns and the Sweden Democrats.

Whether he meant to or not, he has now become the focus point for Scandinavia’s hard right, and his actions will poison the waters for those who share some, if not all, of his ideas.

His writings betray his madness, his vanity and arrogance, but also an immense intelligence.

He has clearly thought about and planned this for a very long time, and the courage of his convictions is not in doubt.

But as with those he seeks to inspire, his problem is a democratic one. We do not recognise the picture of “Muslim occupation in Europe” that they try to paint, and we simply do not agree with what it is that they want to achieve.

After the massacre there is no doubt we are afraid. But we are not cowed. We will not be silenced.

We should not try to surpress his ideas or his writings, just as we have not banned “Mein Kampf” and other radical anti-democratic texts.

The only way to stop ideologies like the hatred preached by Breivik is to bring them out into the light, analyse them and try to understand where they come from. Only then can we show them up for what they are.

Only then can we begin to meet their baseless arguments and groundless fears head-on.

Only then can we teach our children that history’s biggest lesson for mankind is that hatred never produced anything worth having.

Despite the horrors of the last few days the Nobel Peace Price should be staying in Norway this year, and it should be given to prime minister Jens Stoltenberg.

For it was he that, amidst the sobs at the memorial service in Oslo’s Domkyrke this morning, showed us a glimpse of the future as he echoed the words of one of the survivors of Breivik’s massacre at Utoeya.

“If one man can show so much hate, imagine how much love we can show together”.