‘Fjordman’ raises anonymity issues

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New information about the life of Peder Jensen, who revealed himself to be the blogger “Fjordman” that is often quoted as a leading influence by Oslo and Utøya terrorist attacks suspect Anders Behring Breivik, has been disclosed, as Jensen himself criticized police for treating him “like a murder suspect.” The debate on anonymous blogging in Norway has also continued apace, while police have courted controversy by asking an anti-Islamic organization to move a meeting on public safety grounds.

As part of the ongoing investigation, Jensen’s home has been searched by the police. According to newspaper VG, the blogger had put his computer in a storage facility in central Oslo before the police hearings, and only volunteered to give investigators the computer after they suggested they would obtain a court order to seize it. Jensen explained that he placed the computer in storage “not because I have anything to hide, but mostly because I regarded this as a little too strong an invasion of privacy,” adding that he “owed” loyalty to other anonymous bloggers.

Jensen wrote a blog post for the Gates of Vienna website after his interview with the police that claimed that he had been “treated like a murder suspect.” In his post, reported by newspaper Dagbladet, Jensen says that he had spoken to the head of the controversial Danish Free Press Society Lars Hedegaard, who himself has been accused of racism, and received support, with Hedegaard apparently stating that “he had never heard of any witness that had been treated in a similar way in any Western country, apart from in totalitarian societies like the Third Reich.” Speaking of police searches of his property, which he described as undertaken after a “political decision,” Jensen added that “there’s no question about the fact that they wanted to get a hold of information on the non-violent Islam-critical network in Europe.”

Jensen has admitted that Breivik contacted him but continues to deny that the terrorist suspect was “a part of the Islam-critical milieu,” adding that “none of my acquaintances had heard about this guy” either in Norway or internationally before the attacks. Police have not ruled out further questioning of the blogger.

Violence ‘logical conclusion of his reasoning’
According to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), the particularly influences that Jensen had on Breivik’s manifesto include the conspiracy theory that since the 1970s, European political elites have encouraged Muslim immigration and “Islamization” in order to “import voters.” Another idea of Jensen’s that Breivik quoted was that Christians should meet “Islamization” by arming themselves. One of his most famous blog posts, titled “Native Revolt: A European Declaration of Independence,” states that if the demands of the anti-Islamic movement are not met, they will “have no choice but to realize that our leaders have betrayed us” and that they will “take the necessary steps in order to protect our own security and national survival.”

VG also discovered that on the days of the attacks, Jensen had written at Gates of Vienna that the Norwegian government was “the most suicidal and cowardly” in Europe and that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was as “fawning” to Muslims as it “is possible to be.” As the shootings on Utøya were reported, he described the Labour Youth as “a gang of anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian young socialists.” A leading investigator of the far right in Norway and internationally, Øyvind Strømmen, commented that while there was a “difference” between Breivik and Jensen, the blogger “is responsible for spreading an ideology where violence is a natural, logical conclusion of his reasoning.”

9/11 ‘created’ persona
Details of Jensen’s early life have continued to emerge. According to VG, he grew up in a socialist family and spent time as a member of the Socialist Left Party’s youth wing. He became critical of Islam when studying Arabic at the American University in Cairo, where he claims to have witnessed neighbours celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA by having cake. Soon after this, he began writing and “created” his pseudonym.

It has also been reported by news agency NTB that Jensen worked between the beginning of 2002 and mid-2003 for the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), which is tasked with monitoring the human rights situation in the West Bank city. Rolf A. Vestvik of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which oversees the Norwegian element of the TIPH, told NTB that Jensen “did not distinguish himself in any particular way,” adding that his time at the mission was lengthened in such a way that “indicates that there were no negative comments about his work.”

It is also emerged in VG that Jensen was writing a book at the time of the attacks on “myths about European culture” for which he had a publisher lined up, but he has said that the attacks have “destroyed his desire to write.”

Free speech debated
The debate on free speech in Norway since the 22 July has now turned to whether people should be allowed to write anonymously without restriction on the internet. Minister for Education and Research Kristin Halvorsen has reportedly said that the issue should be looked at. Two members of Kripos commented to VG that they supported the issue being looked at because bloggers like “Fjordman” were able to “spew out opinions on the internet without having to stand up for what they write.” Nonetheless, a professor of law, Jon Bin, told news agency NTB that any restriction might be “unconstitutional,” and that being anonymous allowed people “to express their opinions to the public without fear of being hindered.” The Norwegian press has also defended the right to anonymous publishing, with Nils Øy of the Association of Norwegian Editors describing anonymity as “a human right.”

Meanwhile, the organization Stop the Islamization of Norway (SIAN), a group which has compared Islam to Nazism, have been forced by police to rearrange the timing and move an emergency meeting planned to take place near where the Oslo bombings occurred. A police letter explained the move by stating, “we want to prevent potential violent clashes or riots that would result from SIAN carrying out its meeting now and in addition at a place that lies geographically close to those that were affected by the attacks on 22 July.” The letter also said it took the action based “on the background of experience with the earlier members’ meetings that SIAN has carried out in the same area, and where other groups without exception have mobilized strongly in order to stop their meetings.” The group’s leader, Arne Tumyr, told NRK that he wants to report the Oslo police to the Attorney-General for “breaking the law” regarding freedom of speech. “Some say that we are coming to this place to add fuel to the fire, but we are an information organization, and do not do anything but give information about the threat Islam represents to Norwegian society,” he added.

Anti-racist and anti-fascist groups have previously protested against SIAN meetings.

Views and News from Norway/Aled-Dilwyn Fisher
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