Racist attacks draw toughest jail term

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UPDATED: A court in suburban Oslo handed down Norway’s strictest punishment on Thursday to a young Norwegian man who murdered his Chinese-born adopted sister last summer and then tried to massacre Muslims at a local mosque. He defended himself by claiming that he had to carry out his deadly attacks in order to save the white race.

Philip Manshaus, appearing at his custody hearing last August after he shot and killed his Chinese-born sister and then attacked a mosque in Bærum, west of Oslo. He was still showing signs of how he’d been overmanned by three elderly men at the mosque, who held him until police arrived. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

That prompted the court (Asker og Bærum tingrett) to sentence Philip Manshaus, now age 22, to 21 years in prison under the special terms called forvaring, which may keep him in prison for life. He won’t be eligible for parole until he’s served at least 14 years of his term, and only then if a judge feels confident enough that he no longer presents a threat to society.

Manshaus’ prison term is thus stricter than that doled out to Anders Behring Breivik, another young Norwegian white supremacist who bombed Norway’s government headquarters in 2011 and then set off a massacre of his own at a Labour Party summer camp on the island of Utøya. Breivik killed 77 people in his twin attacks and wounded many more, but at that time, the law allowed that he’d be eligible for parole after just 10 years. He was also sentenced to forvaring, however, and is widely expected to remain jailed for many years to come.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Manshaus, after listening to the court’s lengthy oral presentation of his sentence, said he would not appeal because it would formally legitimize the court system itself. His defense attorney later told news bureau NTB that her client does not want to recognize Norway’s legal system by launching an appeals process. The court itself determined that Manshaus still has time to reconsider, and could appeal at a later date.

Manshaus’ stepmother, meanwhile, was awarded NOK 280,000 (nearly USD 30,000) in compensation for his murder of her adopted daughter. Three of the men who halted Manshaus’ attack on the mosque were awarded NOK 160,000, NOK 130,000 and NOK 70,000 respectively.

Believes ‘white race’ is threatened
Manshaus’ term is in line with what prosecutors sought. After shooting his 17-year-old sister Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen at the family’s home in Eiksmarka because, he testified, she was not white, he then drove to the Al-Noor mosque at Skui in Bærum, armed and in battle gear with a video camera mounted to his helmet. There were only a few elderly men at the mosque when he arrived and started shooting, however, and they quickly overmanned him and held him until police arrived.

Manshaus, who grew up in a relatively affluent Norwegian family, was officially charged with the murder of his sister and the attack on the mosque, both occurring on Saturday August 10th. He was deemed mentally fit to stand trial and resisted any efforts to prove otherwise, even those of his own defense attorney Unni Fries.

Young Philip Manshaus attacked this mosque at Skui in Bærum last August, after first killing his Chinese-born step-sister. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

He, like Breivik, insisted on defending himself on the grounds that he believes “the white race” is threatened by non-western immigrants. He testified in court that he was inspired by the Australian right-wing extremist and terrorist Brenton Tarrant, who attacked Muslims in New Zealand, and Manshaus also named both Adolf Hitler and Breiving as his mentors. He called the Holocaust a myth and testified that he has no regrets whatsoever for his attack on the mosque or for murdering his own sister. He testified that he was only sorry he didn’t inflict more damage or kill more people. He had been widely ridiculed online by other white supremacists, and said he was “ashamed” that he “acted impulsively, was stressed and should have planned the attack better.”

Manshaus’ stated desire for a violent revolution to spread his racist ideology was among factors prompting Judge Annika Lindström to rule that his offenses were consciously carried out beyond a reasonable doubt. His conviction and sentence were backed by his goal of “keeping the white race pure.” He also threatened to kill his own brother if the brother fell in love with someone who wasn’t Norwegian. Judge Lindström stressed how Manshaus killed his Chinese-born sister by shooting her four times in her own bed at the family home, how he testified that “she looked surprised” when he started shooting, and that he intended to shoot as many people as possible at the mosque before setting the building on fire.

Sentence coincides with anti-racism demonstrations
Family members and friends testified they had become concerned over how Manshaus had “become radicalized” over the past year or so, and his step-mother testified that she finally had decided to call the police just before he carried out his attacks. Some acquaintances had contacted police but no concrete action was taken.

Manshaus’ sentencing comes just days after thousands of Norwegians all over the country demonstrated against racism and police brutality. The demonstrations in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen and several other cities around Norway have since been criticized by some top politicians because they violated Corona virus containment measures and even, according to some, because they don’t think racism is a problem in Norway.

Many disagree, not least since Norway’s two most violent terrorist attacks were both carried out by right-wing extremists. Scores of immigrants and members of minority groups in Norway have been speaking out over the past week as well, describing discrimination in the job market and lack of inclusion in Norwegian society.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund