The suspect of a mosque shooting in Norway appeared in court on Monday, and was ordered by the court to be held in jail for four weeks while police continue to investigate. Although not confirmed by officials, Norwegian media has reported that the suspect of the attack is 21-year-old Philip Manshaus. The suspect is charged with attempted murder for opening fire at the Al-Noor Islamic Centre in an Oslo suburb, as well as for the murder of his 17-year-old stepsister, on 10 August 2019.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the shooting a “direct attack on Norwegian Muslims” and urged that the political parties work together to pass laws to actively fight racism and Islamophobia. Hans Sverre Sjoevold, head of Norway’s domestic security agency, the Police Security Service, told reporters that officials had received a “vague” tip about the suspect last year, but the tip “didn’t go in the direction of an imminent terror planning.” He added that “many of the people who have right-wing attitudes share a violent mindset, but experience shows that very few go from word to action. Therefore, it is a demanding mission to capture and prevent those who have the ability and will carry out attacks.” The suspect’s defense attorney, Unni Fries, told the media that the suspect “will use his right not to explain himself for now” and that he “does not admit criminal guilt.” She denied reports that the suspect was inspired by a March mosque shooting in New Zealand, which killed 51 people, and an August shooting in El Paso, Texas, which killed 22 people.
The Norway shooting marks another far-right attack targeted at immigrants and Muslims. The attack comes just days after the shooting that was targeted at Hispanic immigrants in Texas, and months after the deadly mosque shooting in New Zealand. Before opening fire in the mosque, Manshaus expressed anti-immigrant sentiments online, and the attack appears to be a way of him responding to his anger. However, the Islamophobia and xenophobia driving all of these attacks are extremely dangerous, and governments around the world must do a better job of preventing this hate-fueled anger from being channeled into tangible action. People have become much more comfortable with sharing views both online and in person, but these beliefs are absolutely unacceptable, as they are driven by the belief that one group is inherently superior to the other and have put far too many human lives in danger.
The shooting took place at Al-Noor Islamic Centre, which is located in the Oslo suburb of Bærum. There were three people inside when the attack occurred, who were able to take the gunman down before police arrived. According to the director of the mosque, the attacker entered the building with several weapons and shot multiple times, but nobody was seriously hurt. When police raided the suspect’s house after the attack, they discovered the body of the suspect’s 17-year-old stepsister. The suspect was arrested on 10 August, and on Monday 12 August the Oslo District Court ordered in a closed hearing that he be held for another four weeks, including two in solitary confinement, while police continue to investigate the incident.
While police are still investigating the incident, Norwegian residents and politicians have already responded to the attack, with many calling for further action on permanently ending xenophobia in the country. Prime Minister Solberg’s request that both political parties take action to address the issue is a necessary step to ensure that right-wing extremists no longer have a platform to express their views and feel compelled to commit dangerous acts of violence. However, this sort of action is needed worldwide in order to ensure that these extremists do not continue to carry out violent attacks on human beings.
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