In what must have been the oddest day of a long and painful trial, attorneys for Norwegian mass murderer Andres Breivik called anti-Muslim extremists to the stand to testify in their client's defense. The men were called to explain their virulently racist conspiracies theories to the court in order to prove that believing in virulently racist conspiracy theories doesn't mean you're insane.
There is no disputing the Breivik is responsible for the deaths of 77 people last year in the worst mass murder in Norwegian history. However, it's become very important to Breivik that he not be considered a mad man. There's the legal matter, of course. If he's found guilty, but sane, the maximum sentence for his crime is 21 years. If he's found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would avoid jail, but would be confined to psychiatric care indefinitely. In either case, there's a good chance that he will never see the light of day again. (Despite the apparent leniency of the Norway's legal system, which has no death penalty, he can be held beyond 21 years if he's considered a danger to society.)
That he systematically murdered 77 people is good enough to prove Breivik insane for most people, no matter how the court rules. But Breivik thinks his legacy is at stake in this proceeding: if he's found to be insane, then his ideology and the cause would be discredited while he rots away in a hospital. So he's trying very hard to prove that he's not insane. His argument: he is not alone, that his beliefs are shared by many, and that the people who fail to heed his warnings are the crazy ones. Even within this twisted logic, it probably does not help his cause to rely on witnesses who sound like crazy people.
One witness, Arne Tumyr (pictured above), who heads the organisation Stop the Islamisation of Norway, said that Islam was "an evil political ideology"; compared Pakistan to the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany; and said the Prophet Mohamed was "a sexual delinquent, a looter of caravans, an assassin, a war criminal." He talked about Winnie the Pooh's buddy, Piglet, who he claimed was banned from a day care because Muslims consider him impure. Tore Tvedt, who has a previous conviction for making anti-Semitic statements, told the court that "the constitution has been cancelled" and “when [Muslims] get their will, the Nordic race will be exterminated.” A third accused the government of downplaying statistics about Islamic demographics and to hide a threat that will turn Norway into "the French condition." A fourth, who lives in Britain, testified that he never leaves the house without a bulletproof vest.
According to reporter Mark Lewis, who has been covering the entire trial for several outlets, the testimony was met with yawns, confusion, and little sympathy. The men who were supposed to prove that Breivik isn't crazy appeared to be even crazier than him. They saw the opportunity to testify as an opportunity to prove their case to the world, but everyone else in the courtroom, including the judges were unimpressed.
This witness thinks he has been given the opportunity to talk about his hobby horse and finally blow open the conspiracy #breivik— Mark Lewis (@markantonylewis) June 5, 2012
None of them endorsed Breivik's violence, but all agreed that unless action is taken Norwegian society (a.k.a., white European society) is doomed. There's no doubt that there are some people in the world who sympathize with Breivik and his cause. But none of them deliberately murdered 77 people. And bringing them altogether in one courtroom didn't suddenly make them right.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.