Anders Behring Breivik carried out his heinous Oslo, Norway attacks in the name of Europe, claiming that he was starting a war against Islam on the continent. Breivik, who on July 22 killed 76 people in two successive attacks in and around the Norwegian capital, believes himself to be a Christian crusader against the terrors of Muslim immigrant.
His attacks have been condemned by people and governments across the world. Breivik, who has admitted to the attacks and is being held by police, has been likened to terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski.
But, a few Italian politicians have come forward to defend Breivik's thinking. Although they disagree with the outrageous violence carried out against Norwegian citizens, the men -- both members of one of Italy's most conservative political parties -- say that the Islamification of Europe is a very real phenomenon.
Italian parliamentarians Mario Borghezio and Francesco Speroni -- two leading members of Italy's Northern League Party -- have both publicly defended the logic behind Anders Behring Breivik's Oslo massacre.
“Some of the ideas he expressed are good, barring the violence," MEP Borghezio told Il Sole-24 Ore radio station. "Some of them are great.”
“[Breivik's] opposition to Islam and his explicit accusation that Europe has surrendered before putting up a fight against its Islamisation,” are valid and commendable points for Borghezio, the BBC quotes him as saying.
The Norwegian terrorist stated in his manifesto "2083" that Islamic immigration into Europe needs to be stopped completely. Breivik was a drastically far-right Christian extremist who believes he is purifying Europe. He also believes that there is a joint Marxist-Muslim conspiracy to turn Europe into "Eurabia," a term frequently used by right-wing Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci.
“If [Breivik's] ideas are that we are going towards Eurabia and those sorts of things, that western Christian civilization needs to be defended, yes, I’m in agreement,” said Speroni in a separate interview with the radio station.
Opposition leaders, as well as many Italians, were outraged by the comments.
“The statements by the League’s Euro MP are very serious and they represent an offense to both Norway and the whole of Europe. The European Parliament should censure him immediately,” stated Green Party chief Angelo Bonelli.
The politicians' Northern League colleagues cringed at the remarks. The far-right party is part of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom political coalition, which has been falling in popularity recently, as its leader continues to face allegations ranging from corruption to solicitation of a minor.
“I issue an official apology to Norway and above all to the relatives of the victims for the outrageous and unacceptable reflections expressed in a personal capacity by the Honorable Mr Borghezio,” said Northern League cabinet minister Roberto Calderoli.
Many members of Italian parliament and press are calling for the resignation of both men over the remarks. But while Breivik's actions were unimaginably terrible, should the two politicians be stripped of their post?
These two Italian figureheads are allowed their own opinions. They are in the public spotlight, but that doesn't mean that the public does, or has to, agree with them. The Northern League -- which promotes the secession of the Po Valley region from the rest of Italy -- has not tried to hide its xenophobic views, and it shouldn't, no matter how despicable the views are.
Ironically, Breivik felt that free speech was being corrupted and that political correctness was a Marxist plot.
The thing about politicians is that the unpopular and controversial ones can be removed rather easily -- if people don't vote for them. They were expressing their opinions, one shared by their supporters (who like to dress as crusaders) before the Friday attacks.
In the end, no matter how distasteful -- and paranoid -- the comments were, Borghezio was right about one thing.
"You have to have balls to take up certain positions," he said.