Witness hails diversity Breivik hates

A leading member of Norway's ruling Labour Party, main target of Anders Behring Breivik's attacks that killed 77 people, took the stand Wednesday at his trial to praise the multiculturalism he condemns.

Witness hails diversity Breivik hates
Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix

Party secretary Raymond Johansen insisted in his testimony to the Oslo district court that "diversity is fundamentally positive and enriches us both economically and culturally."

"From my point of view, the Labour Party has decided to deconstruct the Norwegian culture and to declare war on it," Breivik countered.

Coming after testimony on Tuesday from right-wing extremists who did not back Breivik's attacks but supported many of his views, including the alleged "Islamization" of Norway, Johansen had been called by the defence to testify about his party's immigration policies.

"Countries that are attractive to foreigners are the countries that win in global competition," he told the court on the 32nd day of the trial, acknowledging though that "there are large challenges linked to integration and we and the other parties have not always been good enough" at facing them.

Breivik, 33, blames the Labour Party for paving the way for the multiculturalism he claims is disintegrating Norwegian society and culture and leading to a "Muslim invasion" of the Scandinavian country and Europe.

Last July 22nd, the right-wing extremist first bombed a government building in Oslo, killing eight people, before going on a shooting rampage on the nearby Utøya island where the Labour Party's youth wing was hosting a summer camp.

He killed 69 people in his island massacre, most of them teens, with the youngest having just celebrated her 14th birthday.

"What does the Labour Party plan to do about the gradual deconstruction of the Norwegian ethnic group," Breivik asked in response to Johansen's comments, maintaining that people with blond hair and blue eyes, like himself, will have completely disappeared within the next 200 years.

Johansen however stressed that the Labour Party, like other democratically-minded political parties, had seen its membership numbers rise since the attacks.

Some 10,000 new members joined the Labour Party in 2011, 7,000 of them after the July 22nd attacks, he said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday

The mayor of Cologne has announced a two-year pilot project that will allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer on the Muslim day of rest each week.

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday
The DITIP mosque in Cologne. Photo: dpa | Henning Kaiser

Mosques in the city of the banks of the Rhine will be allowed to call worshippers to prayer on Fridays for five minutes between midday and 3pm.

“Many residents of Cologne are Muslims. In my view it is a mark of respect to allow the muezzin’s call,” city mayor Henriette Reker wrote on Twitter.

In Muslim-majority countries, a muezzin calls worshippers to prayer five times a day to remind people that one of the daily prayers is about to take place.

Traditionally the muezzins would call out from the minaret of the mosque but these days the call is generally broadcast over loudspeakers.

Cologne’s pilot project would permit such broadcasts to coincide with the main weekly prayer, which takes place on a Friday afternoon.

Reker pointed out that Christian calls to prayer were already a central feature of a city famous for its medieval cathedral.

“Whoever arrives at Cologne central station is welcomed by the cathedral and the sound of its church bells,” she said.

Reker said that the call of a muezzin filling the skies alongside church bells “shows that diversity is both appreciated and enacted in Cologne”.

Mosques that are interested in taking part will have to conform to guidelines on sound volume that are set depending on where the building is situated. Local residents will also be informed beforehand.

The pilot project has come in for criticism from some quarters.

Bild journalist Daniel Kremer said that several of the mosques in Cologne were financed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “a man who opposes the liberal values of our democracy”, he said.

Kremer added that “it’s wrong to equate church bells with the call to prayer. The bells are a signal without words that also helps tell the time. But the muezzin calls out ‘Allah is great!’ and ‘I testify that there is no God but Allah.’ That is a big difference.”

Cologne is not the first city in North Rhine-Westphalia to allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer.

In a region with a large Turkish immigrant community, mosques in Gelsenkirchen and Düren have been broadcasting the religious call since as long ago as the 1990s.

SEE ALSO: Imams ‘made in Germany’: country’s first Islamic training college opens its doors