As journalists pore over the 1,500-page manifesto Anders Behring Breivik posted online shortly before his killing spree in Norway on Friday, we're learning more about the individuals, groups, and countries the anti-Islam extremist admires. Some of those praised in the document have strenuously distanced themselves from Breivik in recent days, while others have remained silent as far as we can tell. As The Globe and Mail's Doug Saunders explains, those who have disavowed Breivik "have delivered responses that range from denunciation to denial to awkward arguments that the killer was correct in his motives, but his actions damaged their common cause." Let's take a look at who's saying what:
- Vladimir Putin In his manifesto, The New York Times notes, Breivik says if he could meet one living person it would either be the Pope or Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who he describes as "a fair and resolute leader worth of respect." A Putin spokesman quoted by Kommersant called Breivik the "devil incarnate," adding that "no matter what he wrote or said, this is the delirium of a madman."
- Geert Wilders The Dutch anti-Islam leader, who Breivik praised as a "steadfast" defender of Western values, has called the Norwegian a "sick psychopath" and emphasized that his Freedom Party "abhors everything the man stands for," according to Global Post. In a statement, Wilders called Breivik's actions "a slap in the face for the worldwide anti-Islam movement."
- U.S. Commentators On Monday, the Times noted how Breivik had been "deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam," prompting a swift response from the "counterjihad" activists themselves, who have either condemned Breivik's actions or, perhaps more frequently, condemned the media for linking them with Breivik. "As if killing a lot of children aids the defense against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, or has anything remotely to do with anything we have ever advocated," Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer wrote. "Anders Behring Breivik is responsible for his actions," added Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs. "If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists." The National Review's Mark Steyn, who appeared in Breivik's writings but was not grouped among the "counterjihad activists" in the Times article, reflected, "Any of us who write are obliged to weigh our words, and accept the consequences of them. But, when a Norwegian man is citing Locke and Burke as a prelude to gunning down dozens of Norwegian teenagers, he is lost in his own psychoses." At The Wall Street Journal, author Bruce Bawer criticized Breivik's actions but not necessarily his ideology, asserting that the Norwegian had employed an "unspeakably evil 'solution'" borne of "legitimate concern about genuine problems."
- The English Defence League In an appearance on the BBC's Newsnight last night, the leader of the EDL, a right-wing group that protests against the presence of radical Islam in the U.K., said he'd never met Breivik and did not believe the Norwegian had ever attended EDL demonstrations, despite other EDL members claiming Breivik had been in touch with the group's leaders (Breivik himself claimed he'd met the group's leaders and had 600 EDL members as Facebook friends). In his interview with the BBC, the EDL's Stephen Lennon (a.k.a. Tommy Robinson) stressed that Breivik had distinguished his ideology from the EDL's in his manifesto. Here's video of the interview: