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Misinformation of The Norway Attacks

Misinformation of The Norway Attacks

As we wake up to news of two attacks in Norway, you may have different versions of who was responsible for these events, depending on how you access the media.

On the front page of The Sun (which had an average daily circulation of 2,783,110 copies in April 2011) in relatively large print it has ” ‘AL-QAEDA’ MASSACRE “, followed by the headline of “NORWAY’S 9/11″.  In the caption it mentions

“Cops fear Islamist fanatics were out to kill PM Jens Stoltenberg, who was due to visit his political party’s youth camp on Utoya island – where a man was arrested”.

It follows this with “Witnesses claimed the gun maniac was blond with blue eyes and spoke Norwegian – raising fears that he was a homegrown al-Qaeda convert”. The Sun repeats this information again near the beginning of the double paged spread on pages 4 and 5 with

“He spoke fluent Norwegian – raising fears that he was a homegrown Islamic convert”.

Following on from the front page headline, two further comparisons to 9/11 are made twice in the article with “As Norway reeled from its very own 9/11″ and “But like 9/11, the carnage was only just beginning – and two hours later terror came to Utoya”.

On the two-page spread there is also a separate box describing reasons why Muslim hardliners would attack Norway:

- troops fighting in Afghanistan

- Norwegian newspaper reprinting Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006

- In 2007, “al-Qaeda’s new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri put Norway on a hit list for backing the war on terror”

- Norway’s intelligence services said earlier this year that the biggest threat to the state’s security was from Muslim hardliners.

It goes on to describe more reasons, with the article ending with “Islam is now Norway’s second biggest religion, with more than 100,000 Muslims in a population of 4.9 million”.

After reading this version of events, you would relate these attacks to al-Qaeda and Muslim hardliners with the idea that the suspect could be a “homegrown al-Qaeda convert”.

However, The Sun’s featured article on their website displays a completely different side to the story, with several quotes distancing the suspect from the idea that he could be a “homegrown Islamic convert”. This includes quotes from police officials,

National police chief Sveinung Sponheim said the gunman’s internet postings “suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but whether that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen”.

It goes on to quote another police official with

A police official said the suspect appears to have acted alone in both attacks, and that “it seems like this is not linked to any international terrorist organizations at all”. The official added: “It seems it’s not Islamic-terror related. This seems like a madman’s work.”

Later in the post this police official’s quote is repeated, whilst also mentioning that “A pal said he ranted on anti-Islam websites and was “strongly opposed to multiculturalism” “.  After reading this article, you would have been left with a completely different opinion of who was responsible for these horrific events. The words “al-Qaeda” and “9/11″ do not appear at all and any mentions of Islam or Muslim views are of the suspect’s negative attitude rather than positive.

Following on from this, The Guardian‘s live coverage of the Norway attacks also mentions the quotes from the police officials involved, whilst offering more insight into the suspect who has been named as Anders Behring Breivikis. It mentions

National police chief Sveinung Sponheim told NRK that the suspected gunman’s Internet postings “suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but whether that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen.”

Andersen said the suspect posted on websites with Christian fundamentalist tendencies.

A police official said the suspect appears to have acted alone in both attacks, and that “it seems like this is not linked to any international terrorist organisations at all.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that information had not been officially released by Norway’s police.

“It seems it’s not Islamic-terror related,” the official said. “This seems like a madman’s work.”

It goes on to mention more of the suspect’s background with

One of the few who knew him, who have spoken so far, was an anonymous friend who told the Norwegian newspaper VG that Breivik had been a far right winger since at least his late twenties, when he had begun posting a series of controversial opinions on Facebook.

What has emerged so far paints a disturbing picture: a Christian fundamentalist with a deep hatred of multiculturalism in his country, of the left and of Muslims who had written disparagingly of prominent Norwegian politicians.

With this additional information, it highlights the vast differences in media coverage even from the same news organisation on the same day. Those who read The Sun newspaper would have been left with thoughts of al-Qaeda and Muslim hardliners having some responsibility for this event, whilst those who went to their website would hold a completely different view with the introduction of quotes from officials involved.

However, this should not distract us from what has happened, with many people having lost their lives in what can only be described as a national tragedy for Norway. Thoughts should be with the families of the victims as we hope Norway recovers from the acts of a very disturbed man.

 

Sources: The Sun (printed newspaper), The Sun, The Guardian

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