We are deeply outraged by the Oslo mass shooting, which has left two people dead and many injured. The fact that a bar popular with the LGBT+ community was targeted suggests that it was a hate crime. Local police authorities are treating the incident as an Islamist terrorist attack.
This is not the first time that Norwegians, known for their support of free speech, have borne the brunt of a paroxysm of hatred. In 2011, Anders Breivik, a neo-Nazi conspiracy theorist, killed scores in Oslo by detonating a car bomb and shooting innocent youth. Despite there being a decade-long interval, both events are eerily similar. In both cases, the perpetrators seem to be motivated by blind hatred — for what other reason is there to gun down innocent civilians? In both events, Norwegians with progressive values came under attack: in 2011, it was a progressive group of young political activists; in 2022, members of the LGBT+ community.
The most recent attack in Oslo reflects a larger pattern of violence unleashed across the globe against those who champion liberal values, those who fight for equality and against oppression: from women’s rights activists to environmental rights activists to queer rights activists. These acts of violence also reflect desperation — a sense of defeatism — on the part of those who sense that they have lost the war of ideas, that the tide is decisively shifting in the court of public opinion.
This is a dangerous time. We need to be concerned not only about rogue actors who, despite warning signs or mental illness, acquire deadly weapons but also about their sympathizers who have infiltrated political systems and gained power. Those on the wrong side of history are desperate and willing to resort to any means: from sabotaging the independent judiciary to nullify abortion rights to unleashing gun violence in the public space. It is essential that we scrutinize these acts and recognize connections and patterns. We need to be vigilant and keep fighting the good fight.
Shuddhashar condemns the attack in Oslo in the strongest possible terms. We urge governments worldwide, including the Norwegian government, to ensure better protection of their citizens — including minority groups who are too often the targets of undeserved hatred — and to safeguard against attacks on hard-won progressive values of equity, democracy, and human rights and dignity.