Between Terrorism and Insanity by
Not Guilty Not Acceptable for Breivik
Photograph by: Getty Images, Agence France-presse
rosecutors in the criminal trial of Norwegian mass murderer Andres Breivik are pushing to have him considered not criminally responsible for his actions due to insanity. Brevik is charged with killing 77 people in Norway after detonating a bomb and engaging in a shooting rampage in 2011.
While admitting to committing the crimes, Breivik has pleaded not guilty. He has stated the attacks were justified in order to forward his extremist manifesto, which comprises violent Islamophobic views, anti-feminism and racist nationalist rhetoric.
The prosecutor’s tactics may be result in Breivik spending the rest of his life in a psychiatric institution. But that institution will not be a prison. And any finding of insanity will change the narrative of Breivik as bloodthirsty anti-Muslim terrorist into a violent mental patient.
It is difficult to ignore the parallels with the initial media of the Breivik case, which seemed reluctant to refer to him as a terrorist – a point highlighted in Sameera Qureshi ‘s comment in 2011. As the story developed, that label became more difficult to avoid. Breivik acted on a well-defined agenda in a calculated way - attacking civilians for the express purpose of forwarding his worldview.
It can be said that all terrorists are crazy. But that does not mean they should not be held criminally responsible for their actions. Maybe arguing that Brevik is insane is good legal strategy. But morally it is not the right one. He is a criminal and a terrorist and should be officially recognized as both.
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