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Media giving forum for extremism, says Norwegian author

Racism and Islamophobia are on the rise throughout Europe and everyday media has become a forum for more right-wing extremism, according to the Norwegian author who has written extensively about far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik. Sindre Bangstad, author of Anders Breivik and the Rise of Islamophobia, said the far-right has been given greater coverage in the media following the 9/11 attacks on America. Although he draws on the experience of Norway, Bangstad said such examples can be found all over Europe. Referring to Norway’s Progress Party, known for its tough stance on immigration, he said: “We have solid research data about people’s motive for voting for the Progress Party in Norway. But these developments have occurred in parallel to strong changes in the media that, especially in Norway, push the limits of what is allowed under the freedom of expression.” The Progress Party, in coalition with the Conservative Party, won the parliamentary election in 2013 and entered government for the first time.

Referring to Breivik’s July 2011 crimes, when he killed 77 in attacks on government buildings and a political youth camp, Bangstad said he found it “very disturbing” that a leading newspaper published an article by a well-known racist after massacre.

He said newspapers had become an arena for confrontation rather than dialogue. “We are losing a civilized way to talk to each other on a public platform and create media dynamics where extreme voices appear to be much more important than they actually are,” Bangstad added.

“That is why it is extremely important that children and adolescents today should be taught to be more critical to the news they read.”

Bangstad, who works at the University of Oslo, said there was “clear potential” for an attack similar to Breivik’s to happen again. 

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