Friday, April 20, 2012

Berntsen, was his name

Brave kins of the victims sat in the audience and listened to Breivik's testimony in court today.
The perpetrator spoke in detail, almost without interruption. It was a dignified silence in the room. Out of respect for the dead.
Still, a silent scream was felt throughout the nervous system, as Breivik did not remember the name of the first person he shot dead. Prosecutor Bejer Engh said, with what was perceived as a mix of fire and water in her eyes, in a calm voice: "Berntsen, was his name."

The greatest threat
Something happened when she said it. No technical language could violate the victims' humanity after this sentence.
Berntsen, was his name.
He died first, he was chosen to die first because the perpetrator saw the police officer Trond Berntsen as his biggest threat. Bejer Engh did not let Breivik move on without remembering his name.
We knew what was coming. A seemingly emotionless explanation of 69 murders shocked us deeply. But the red eyes of the prosecutor, her calmness and directness, in confrontation with a testimony that cut into our hearts, made us stronger, in spite of the grief and pain that rolled up inside.

What was about to become a technical review of the events of the one hour massacre in Utøya, was stopped by every victim's name, which rose up in our memory. The persons they were. The faces we were familiar with. The youth who had found a community. The sparkling spirit of young people who spent their summer in dedication to solidarity.
They came to life for us, with the sentence, "Berntsen, was his name."

No longer a number
Now the dead and the injured are going to be presented as individual persons again, they are no longer a number in the series or Breivik's "targets". He has been sitting leaned back in the court today, allowed to talk freely about the absence of his feelings. And he used words for the dead that are tied to his virtual war, and he shook the entire world with his use of language.

In his head he declared war on the entire Norwegian society. He divided people into target categories, gave himself a mandate, and carried out his deadly strategy.
Anders Breivik Behring must be the loneliest man on the planet today. Lonely, but not alone. Breivik was surrounded by the Norwegian justice system. He was protected by Norwegian law.

No rage
No one gave him their rage. No one gave the killer the confirmation he seems to expect. The hatred towards him.
He was asked why he uses such a technical language. He said it is not possible for him to use normal language about his crime. I protect myself, he allows himself to say.
It was announced that this day in court would be tough. Still no-one can prepare for something like that. Experienced journalists who have covered crime for decades, say that they have not seen anything like it.
It is in this room, where the rights of Breivik as a human being is protected, that he will be made responsible for every single murder.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A wall of love against bestiality

The offender has not been given a rostrum. Breivik never felt like a part of society, and with what he did and what he stands for, he has opted out forever.

But his terror continued in court room 250 this Thursday. Verbally, Breivik managed to arouse more fear and loathing than earlier in the trial.
Sober and businesslike, he made an account of the named individuals he planned to kill, but didn´t kill, what targets he would blow up, but didn´t blow up, due to more or less practical reasons.
The otherwise so calm journalists who covered the trial this Thursday, were clearly shaken and out of balance after hearing that they themselves had been so direct targets of Breivik's terror plans. And they know he is a man of ability.
Breivik is still able to arouse fear. Thursday, for the first time since the trial started, one of the lawyers said: This man is dangerous.

Must look the monster in human nature in the eyes

This man, who we cannot comprehend is grown up among us in Oslo, not only shows an abysmal lack of empathy when he attacks. In court Thursday, he showed also the total ruthlessness to the injured, their families and others who were affected by the terrorist attack, and had their wounds torn open again.
We are protected from Breivik´s physical terror now. But not from his terrorizing words, as long as he can explain himself openly and freely in court. What should we do to protect ourselves against them?
We must not look away in fear, we need to look the monster in human nature in the eyes. The fact that Breivik presents everything in a seemingly rational and businesslike style, makes it all the more monstrous.

Gruesome, but necessary details
This verbal terror should not paralyze the nation's process of settlement with the mass killer. We shall now, with our tears, our torn wounds, gather all our courage, gather all our forces and let the court run its course, with its painful, but necessary details.
It gets worse on Friday I have heard, but it is not certain that this will be the worst day. We must prepare ourselves for more. We must prepare for the examination of witnesses and the autopsy reports, just to name a few.
We must rely on the collective love, which is located in the country's spinal reflex when disaster strikes.

You are the heroes
When the autopsy reports on the 77 killed are presented in the courtroom, we will probably create a new ocean of roses, this time around Oslo Courthouse. As a wall of love against bestiality. A warm embrace with roses. It will happen in May. That month we will celebrate the country's Independence Day, 17th of May.
The month of May will be a painful month in the courtroom, but we will stand together. We will do this. We will make it through this.
Dear all of you who were directly affected on 22 July, and during Breivik´s testimony on Thursday had your wounds torn open again: We think of you. And we will be with you until the wounds heal, because they shall. A man is standing in the courtroom, clearly blinded by his own heroism. But it is you who are the heroes. And the whole world sees it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Breivik's honorary universe

Should we try to understand how Breivik thinks? Most people say no. While all say that this must never happen again. If we will prevent it, it might be necessary to see the world from his head once in a while in this painful process. Only in this way, we can recognize new Breivik´s  and combat these ideas.

He killed his own. It´s just as unbelievable as the fathers who kill their daughters in the thousands around the world, in the name of honor.

Just as we can not comprehend that a father kills his daughter, it is incomprehensible that a young Norwegian kills own young and innocent citizens.

The anatomi of honor killings

In my search for what motivated Breivik, I have found parallels to the anatomy of honor killings. An honor killing involves the incomprehensible fact that a father executes his own daughter. In fear for the family's social death, as a result of the judgment from the community.

The father gives himself a mandate to kill. When he kills his "disobedient" daughter, who he believes is threatening the family's social existence, by taking the honor from his family, he is convinced that he is doing the right thing. 

Empathy steps aside, even with a father to his children. Unimaginable. And the father appears in court as unmoved as Breivik did, when all the names of his victims were read out loud.

Therefore, the numbness in Breivik, which psychiatrists explain as a result of his narcissism, may have an additional and different dimension.
 The mechanism of honor killing. And the fear of extermination, if we base it on what Breivik himself says about his motives. His people's extermination.

If someone tells you that your ethnic group is subjected to a systematic purge.  And that the government and the press is involved in this. If you are convinced that there is a certain religion and a foreign state who is after you. And if you find clear evidence for it in reality, you are on the way to murder rhetoric.

 Breivik even asked the court: If all this is true, why then are my actions illegal?

Paranoid universe

Men who commit honor killings follow the laws they believe are superior to society's laws and ethics. Such a person will not recognize the court.

 The aim is so holy that it justifies all means. In a paranoid head. In this twisted universe,  the killing becomes a necessity. Just as Breivik insists.

 He says that Norwegian women who sleep with Muslims or other non-Europeans deserve to be killed. They are traitors and a stain in Breivik's honorary universe. They insult his imaginary people's honor.

 Although many are relieved that it was not Islamic militants who were behind 22 July, we are still shocked that it was a Norwegian, one of our own, who shot his young countrymen.

Breivik referred to the "laser man" in Malmo, who shot at immigrants.

 But what he did on the island Utøya is more similar to what the father of Swedish-Kurdish Fadime Sahindal did in Stockholm.

 He shot his young daughter in the face. And appeared totally numb in the court room.

 The democratic society condemns Fadime´s father, but he knows that he has sympathizers. Breivik is convinced that he has sympathizers too.

Shabana Rehman Gaarder comment on the trial of Anders Breivik Behring for

Monday, April 16, 2012

Emotionally unaccountable

Calling Breivik´s numb face ice cold, would be to say he showed an emotion when he was facing the indictment. Emotions he did not show.

Oslo, early morning, day one of the trial of Anders Behring Breivik: 150 meters from Oslo Courthouse the car I'm sitting in stops for red light. This moment, right on the junction, I see a 6 year old boy on the side walk. He stumbles and falls face down, while his knee hits the ground so I can practically hear it.
I instinctively put my hand on the seat belt and am about to jump out of the car. Then I see another child come running to. This child lifts up the 6-year-old and gives him a hug, puts his arms around him in a warm embrace, and helps him continue down the street with his arm tightly around his shoulder. The 6-year-old welcomes the comfort and limps on. With school bags on their backs they disappear around the corner.

Nothing has changed
This scene in the city center, on my way to the first day of the trial, affects me so strongly that I am about cry.
Of course, it is outrageously provocative that he who caused a hell for so many people on July 22, appears in court neatly dressed, without a hair curled on his head. He sits there and says exactly the same as he did before 22 July.

Are we dealing with a person without feelings? No, the world held its breath as the indifferent face burst into tears.
Breivik let tears fall, the lower lip trembled and strong emotions distorted his face to resemble a man who suffered.
Breivik's tears did not come suddenly out of the blue. The image that sparked his crying was a video, an extreme dystopian, anti-human litany of ethnic groups, wrapped in hatred based on demographics.

Gave himself permission to kill
In short: The birth rate in Europe decreases. The birth rate among Muslims increases. In Breivik's image of reality, the monomanic repetition of this information, among other, led him to give himself permission to kill his own countrymen. Bomb us. And shoot innocent, defenseless teenagers.

It was this video that the prosecution, after careful consideration, chose to show as part of the prosecutor´s opening argument. Breivik wept over his sacrifice to his great cause, and became sentimental.
Were we witnessing a man crying over something sacred in his eyes? Breivik's sentimental moment may also have occurred because it was the first time in the trial he shared his vision with others. For a man who has been isolated for so long, this was the straw.
Maybe he will burst again, as the trial continues with new moments that involves his ideology?

Yes, in court Monday, Breivik appeared as a person who possesses strong emotions, but he did not express them at the same time as all of us. Therefore, his passion was in fact a proof of his lack of empathy.
Breivik showed in court that he is emotionally unaccountable.
The scene and Breivik´s behavior was fiction-like. But the victims were not in any fiction, when the cruelty they were exposed to was presented.

We will meet the child in Breivik
Today we were told where the dead were found. Who they were together with when they died. We were presented to the deadly route of the perpetrator, drawn on graphical map of the city center and Utøya. We heard the recordings of the shots that killed. The pain and grief over what these people were exposed to stopped our ability to think.
In Courtroom 250, there was no memorial, no rose parade with people who ran out and filled the streets with tears, flowers and pictures. No ceremonies of love. Today we were faced with the victims without any of this.
It was a simple clinical description, an anatomical account of the fatal encounters between the perpetrator and those who were killed. The formal soberness of it all made it even harder to endure.

Nevertheless, the picture of the heart-shaped Utøya bathed in sunshine and the name “Trail of love” on the map fo the island was like a stem that kept us in touch with the warmth of the roses.
It felt as if the 77 dead were present in courtroom 250, and it is because of them we go through this trial.
We should know exactly what happened each and every one of them and what caused this horrible act that led to the loss of so many lives.

The perpetrator´s testimony starts on Tuesday. Breivik's way of explaining and recollecting the events is also part of the evidence. It will the give the court a picture of his accountability. Which is at the core of this trial.

The child I saw helping another child at the junction in the city center early Monday morning, showed compassion. Instinctively. We will eventually meet Breivik as a child in this trial.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

No vengeance hour


Is it at all allowed to talk about revenge in a constitutional state in which the golden principle is to remove the revenge motive for punishment?

This is the principle, but what about our emotions?
If we were to feel the need for revenge, there will never be an outlet for it in this case. The sentence most people want to see Breivik get, is the same as he wants himself now.
Most of us want him to be declared sane. It is the same as he wishes. So what kind of settlement can we get then, but a more brutal, detailed repetition of the horrors?
We want to see his inner suffering, a troubled conscience. It is so far no evidence to suggest that we will see this.
We are going to be confronted with a man with no remorse. But not without a touch of fear.

Breivik's self on the line
He is afraid that he will not appear as an ideological commander. He has looked forward to this great moment where he can pass on his ideas to the world. This is what is at stake for Breivik. Will the court let him talk ideology?
He is not concerned about what he should be held accountable for, the senseless killings of 77 people.
It can be seen as a violation that he is not concerned with our pain. He will try to divert attention by making it an ideological matter. We must not let him do that. Then he will get the hang of us.
The last expert report states that he has psychopathic tendencies. That gives him the ability to catch people in his pattern of thinking. Therefore, those who watch him in prison have been told to not talk cause or ideology with him. Which is something Breivik allegedly is trying to all the time.

The only way we can affect Breivik, is to void his ideology.

If we mobilize a hatred for his ideology, he succeeds in turning the attention away from what he really stands for. Pure crime. The only problem using the word crime is that his crime is so incomprehensible severe that the word becomes too small.
Is that why we call it terrorism? When we call it terrorism, we give the crime an ideological dimension, because terrorism always goes along with ideology.

Witnesses reflect Breivik´s image of reality
We will see that the defense will present a number of witnesses who can confirm Breivik's ideological base. Famous names from the polarized debate about Islam and Norway.
Despite the fact that they have very different points of view, they will in various ways reflect his reality. The more you believe in his reality, the more will the court recognize him as sane. This is probably defense lawyer Geir Lippestads strategy.

Shall we accept this premise? No, says the famous left wing activist, Stein Lillevolden, who is called in as a witness. He will not show, and he is willing to go to jail for it.

It is going to be tough to return to what happened on July 22. And in addition, we will hear more detailed and horrible information about what happened than ever. No one can avoid to empathize with the victims and their families and friends when this is being washed up again.

We must also remember the many injured, who will testify in court. Those who will live on, not only with terror as a memory, but also as scars on their bodies.
How can people feel that justice can be done in a case like this? The death penalty? Although most people are against the death penalty in Norway, polls show that there are Norwegians who want it in extreme cases.
But probably not in this case. He would get away too easily.
Let's face it, we are confused about what we want and what we can get at the end of this painful process.
Sane, insane, ability of guilt, imprisonment versus treatment, and so on. What is the general feeling of justice in this matter? A wish to forget him? May the right response be to forget Breivik? It would stand in stark contrast to what is common to say for crimes against humanity, "We shall never forget!"
But what are we to remember?
We should remember the youth on Utøya and we should remember the words from one of them: "If one man can show so much hate, imagine how much love we can all show together."
The love we are talking about here is a love that must be activated, it does not come by itself.

A slightly grotesque aspect of this trial is that the media turnout is so vast that it resembles a media event, almost like the Olympics. Perhaps that is why a foreign journalist almost threw himself over me when I was on a tour of the courthouse on Friday, and asked, "Are you kin"?
I was bewildered by his directness and insensitivity, and answered no. I should have answered him, "No, but I'm affected. I am a Norwegian citizen. "
We must be prepared for members of a foreign press corps that do not realize how deeply affected all of us Norwegians are.

An international terrorist universe
Another uncomfortable feeling we enter the trial with, is that the perpetrator was one of us, a Norwegian. Terror experts call it "homegrown terrorism", but Breivik operated in an international universe.
He calls himself a solider of the "Knights Templar" in England. He is inspired by Israeli warfare in the Middle East, and even by militant Islamist tactics on the battlefield. He ordered chemicals and miscellaneous equipment from abroad. And his aim is the defence of Europe as a whole. Although this kind of terror must have a local arena, it is internationally linked in our time. Those who recruit people to violence on the Internet, where do they live? The answer is "everywhere".
So what do we feel on Tuesday, when Breivik occupies the witness box?
Let us not consider him a monster. There is a man standing there, and that's what this painful and complicated trial tells us.
That we live in a humanistic and democratic society where the rule of law and rights of the individual are unwavering.
It is not vengeance hour.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shabana Rehman will comment on July 22 trial, for NRK

- Everyone is affected by 22 July, says writer and social commentator Shabana Rehman. As a representative of an average citizen of Oslo, she will comment on 22 July trial.
Shabana Rehman says she hopes to be part of the people's voice as she follows the trial of Behring Anders Breivik. She will write a weekly comment on NRK in connection with what is happening in and around the trial.

- The great social settlement

She says she will follow the trial closely and uncensored from various places. In court, from abroad and from the streets of Oslo. She will participate in online debates and be active on social media.
- I want to convey what happens in the courtroom and beyond. This may be the great social settlement in our time. Not because of Breivik, but because of all the lives we lost, says Rehman when we meet her at the Oslo courthouse where the trial takes place over the next ten weeks.

- A man with no regrets

- I want to emphasize what people say and think in terms of what we are going to face in Breivik's own explanation. What is it that causes people to make extreme statements. I think this trial is going to trigger both right and left extremes, says Rehman.
She says a lot has happened and much has been said since 22 last July.


Foto: Helge Carlsen/NRK
- For me the only thing that stands firm on Monday that it is a man in the courtroom without remorse. It is there the trial begins. It is the most painful and distressing, says Rehman.
- It will be the toughest course for those who are directly affected and their families, but as a nation we were all characterized by the horror that happened, regardless of ethnicity and religion. What happened, the background to the events and how it is explained is our common grief, she says.
- Breivik case is going to present us with some facts about our society. So it becomes our task to look these facts be interpreted extremely or humane, says Rehman.

Experienced terror first hand

Shabana Rehman was in Akersgata in Oslo when the bomb exploded in the government quarter. She says the course has affected her since. 

- I know some facts and extreme ways to interpret the facts related to multiculturalism on. I have commented regularly for years, says Rehman.
- The topics are difficult, and it is important for me to take people seriously. But we must always have a humane dialogue. Breivik's extreme world view is characterized by the opposite. There have been people hostile and violent. And it exists in our society, she said. Breivik chose to put words into action.

- I think the trial is going to shape our self-concept further. For it is then it will be put into words what happened. Also the foreign press, which will follow closely how the military treats many characterize as a monster, says Rehman.

Shabana Rehman på synfaring i terrorrettssalen sammen med redaksjonssjef i, Morten Stensland.

Foto: Helge Carlsen/NRK
- Oslo citizen

NRK said Shabana Rehman is asked to comment 22 July-trial because she she largely represents an average Oslo citizen and because she has many years experience as a social commentator and writer.
- Most of Oslo lies somewhere in between different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Whether one is from a multicultural background, or you are related or know someone. Shabana Rehman has foot in all camps and experienced as well as being in the city center when the bomb slammed on 22 July. She has extensive experience in commenting and debating the type of issues that will arise in the course of the trial, says editorial director for NRK news online editorial Morten Stensland.

- My most important task

The experienced writer admits that the trial and the work of the comments are going to be tough.
- But this is probably the most important thing I will do as a writer, she says.
- Regardless of how we will be affected by this trial, we will continue to live together. The case Breivik shows us how wrong things can go if we do not take a common responsibility towards extremism, says Rehman.