Utoya massacre survivor fights right wing extremism in Norway

World Today

The 2011 massacre that killed 69 in sparked outrage in the Norway over right wing extremism. CCTV America’s Malcolm Brabant reports on how one survivor is dedicating his life to preventing history from repeating itself.

Utoya massacre survivor fights right wing extremism in Norway

The 2011 massacre that killed 69 in sparked outrage in the Norway over right wing extremism. CCTV America's Malcolm Brabant reports on how one survivor is dedicating his life to preventing history from repeating itself.

Bjorn Ilher witnessed the results of extremism at close hand. He has traveled back to Utoya three times. Utoya is the Norwegian island where right winger Anders Breivik killed 69 people and wounded scores more. Ilher is dedicated to preventing a repeat of Brevik’s atrocitiy.

“I think we need to realise that his belief system is not unique and his views are shared widely across all Europe across all of the world,” said Ilher.

Ilher saw many friends shot dead. He survived being targeted from close range and managed to save the lives of two small boys.

Bjorn Ilher has formed an alliance with American Arno Michaelis, who is a former white supremacist. Ilher and Michaelis have addressed intelligence agents and social workers in Denmark working to neutralize both radical Islamists and the ultra right .

“We have to do everything we can to battle extremism,” said Ilher.

European intelligence agencies have reported a surge of membership for right wing groups in reaction to the rise of the Islamic State. Western nations are torn over how to thwart growing Muslim rradicalization But Bjorn Ilher and his new colleague are convinced that society must reach out to potential extremists within Islam and the ultra right.

“They really drive each other’s recruitment. They drive each others’ ideology,” explained Michaelis. “Rather than shun them and fear them, understand that both groups are people who need help, who don’t feel cared for, who feel marginalized, so the best thing you can do is to reach out and include them in your society.”

The concept of treating extremists with kindness in order to neutralize the threat they pose is being put into practice in Denmark. Radical Islamists returning from Syria and Iraq are not arrested. They are given the opportunity to be reintegrated into society.

If they want it, they can have medical treatment. They’ll also be given assistance to get a new job or return to education. The authorities here believe it’s better and safer for Denmark to have this benevolent approach than to alienate the Jihadis. However, it will be sometime before they can determine whether this experiment has been successful.

Meanwhile, confrontations erupted in Copenhagen between anti-racists and Danish neo-Nazis. In addition, 2,000 right wingers in Cologne, Germany  marched to protest Muslim extremism. Thirteen policemen and one protester were injured while six people were arrested in the Cologne clashes.