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Kashmir drifting in cross-currents of regional politics

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KashmirWatch

Kashmir is drifting in turbulent cross-currents of the regional politics in South Asia, a highly dreary situation, unfolding itself in a fast paced mode, making it imperative for anyone who indulges in journalistic pursuits of sorts, to speak out his mind and stated stand point, not with a view to pontificate, but to inform public opinion in performance of one’s conscionable public duty.

I venture to break the eleven month hiatus of silence self imposed of course for various reasons, and, draw public attention to the crises looming large on the horizon. I have never viewed the Kashmir problem as an unfinished agenda of the great divide of Indian Sub-continent in 1947. In my book [ KASHMIR ENIGMA ENTANGLE STRANDS ] I painstakingly expatiated that the provenance of the Kashmir Enigma were laid down by the British strategists in 1707 and not 1947 as is the popular perception. After taking a second hard look at the situation, I still find my adherence to this stand point.

1707 A.D was the period of revival of high caste Hindu Nationalism and British, were invited by the propertied class of High Caste Hindus to subvert Mughal Rule in India. It was agreed that when British depart from the Indian Sub-continent, the mantle of power will be passed on to the propertied High Caste Hindus, who would resurrect the Unified India of Ram Rajya era. Elimination of Pakistan as a State is compatible with the ideals of Hindu Nationalism.

The interim resolution of this conflict of ideals is the ideation of a federal SAARC on economic basis, with common market, common currency, common defense and common forums on regional basis for the resolution of interse territorial disputes. Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh’s strategic asseveration that Indian markets shall be opened to SAARC countries, translated into explicable parlance means that domination of the economies of the SAARC countries, by the pre-dominant and ascendant Indian economy that would gradually lead to the exclusion of rival China from South Asia and will corrode the pretentious sovereignty of the SAARC countries.

The only stumbling block in the pathway is Pakistan, that for its own existential reasons, willy nilly, has how to align with China. I am of the firm view, that U.S and China, shared common perception to dust U.S.S.R from Afghanistan since 1978, and, the Jihad against U.S.S.R was funded in a vast measure by China, through the conduit of Pakistan Army.

The second limb of my thesis is grounded upon the speculation that the Pakistan Army was never totally dependant on U.S military assistance. Mr. A.Q. Khan the Pakistani nuclear scientist should be in a position to corroborate my speculation that actualization of Pakistani nuclear ambitions and surrealistic dreams had the tacit financial approval of China. My own financial difficulties prevented me from visiting China and Pakistan to verify the actual facts. I honest to goodness, wanted to meet Late Mr. Z.A. Bhutto, then facing a murder trial to obtain his version of the scenario. I applied to Amnesty International Indian Chapter for permission to observe Bhuttoe’s trial. The request was disregarded and I tendered my public resignation from Amnesty International Kashmir Chapter as founder member. This explains why I can only characterize my view point as a speculation.

However, this speculation, leads, to still another illation that since 1978 itself U.S.A and India reached a tacit understanding that the radicalization of Talibans for fighting Jihad against Russians would inevitably lead to clericalisation of the Pakistan polity. That would in turn lead to distrust of U.S and Indian policies towards Af-Pak region.

The Indians had a nostrum to this menacing scenario. Down right at the birth of Pakistan in 1947 itself the Indian National Congress adopted a policy of supporting Baluchi and Pushtoon Nationalism. Khan Abdul Gauffar Khan and Dr Khan Sahib at the public request of Sardar Patel then voicing the sentiments of Indian National Congress boycotted 14th August 1947 Celebrations. Gous Bux Bizenjo and other ultra nationalist Baluchis, who had a personal rapport with Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, [Patron All State Peoples Conference] were totally averse to the idea of a theological State of Pakistan. The ambiguities of the Durand Live made it possible for successive Nationalist Governments in Afghanistan to support the idea of Pukhtoonistan. Russian financial support ably fuelled the fires of Afghan Nationalism. The scenario is vividly characterized by Anthony Arnold in his book Afghanistan, the Soviet Invasion in perspective in these words:-

“…..In the spring of 1955, Afghan mobs were permitted if not encouraged by the authorities to tear down the flag from Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, and from its consulates in Jalallabad and Kandhar and to loot these establishments. Pakistan promptly withdrew its ambassador, suspended Afghanistan’s transit privileges, and unleashed its own mob-violence against Afghan businesses and officials in Pakistan. The border remained closed for five months, until the United States finally prevailed on Pakistani’s to allow transit of US aid materials and equipment to Helmund Valley. The United States turned down as impracticable, however, an Afghan request to build over a thousand miles of highway through Iran to give Afghanistan an alternative route to the sea.” Unquote In my view now a reversal of situation has morphed. The killing of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabd did not elicit any reaction from President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. The million dollar question is why? What about Viladmir Putin? His studied silence is eloquent. It was Bin Laden who organized Jihad against U.S.S.R in 1980. The reason is obvious. First and foremost, Russia now has been able to persuade the Islamists in Russia that they should delink themselves from Al-Qaeda. Russia in fact is turning a blind eye to the Russian Islamists getting financial support from other sources.

Now Moscow realizes that there is a present a nexus between India and U.S.A to fuel Pushtoon Nationalism, and, fund the Taliban to raise a direct insurgency in North West Frontier Province of Pakistan.

This is the only plausible explanation why USA has overtly by passed Pakistan and continued negotiations with Talibans. If Talibans delink themselves from Al-Qaeda and form a government in Afghanistan the USA will support the idea of Pushtoonistan.

In the aftermath of such a situation, the U.S will be able to withdraw from Afghanistan by the year 2014. The upshot of this discussion is that Pushtoon Nationalism is now getting direct succour from India and U.S.A. The situation is to force Pakistan to federate with India at least for defense and foreign policy matters, in the name of bringing stabilization in Afghanistan. In such a dire situation, Russian and the China now have a joint interest to collaborate with Pakistan. Sergi Rogov, the Director of Moscow based institute for [U.S and Canada studies] has cautioned that avoiding this strategy will jeopardize Russian interests in Central Asia. There is reason to believe that both Russia and China would like to delink Indian – U.S.A policies in South Asia. The best way to achieve this objective is to open an Islamic insurgency in Kashmir. This theory has to some extent the support of Russian think tank led by Ruslan Ghereyer of [North Caucasus Centre of Islamic Studies]. His comment on the killing of Osama Bin Ladin was succinct in say:-

“…..The liquidation of Bin Laden will have no impact on terrorism in the world and still less in North Caucasus: on the country, it will open a Pandora box of extremism.” He in a mood of sub-audition has in fact cautioned that the Pandora Box of extremism is to be opened in Kashmir Valley. Revival of militancy in Kashmir will be fully supported by Pakistan Army. The Russians will encourage the Chinese to take the burden of Kashmiri Islamic insurgency so that the attention of USA is diverted and it is prevented from devising further strategies in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Water scarcity in Pakistan will force army to forestall any federating strategy with India even on the economic front, not to speak of defense and Foreign affairs. However, granting MNF status to India is a smoke screen.

It is my perception that water scarcity in west Punjab and the changing Russian stance towards Afghanistan and Central Asia will open up the way for Pak-China defense pact coinciding with the rise and revival of Islamic insurgency in Kashmir. The prospects of Kashmir future are bleak and dreary indeed! The downing of a NATO Helicopter with thirty eight U.S special operation group by Taliban using Rocket fire shows direct involvement of both Russia and China in arming Talibans. In the back drop of this intense hugger-mugger, India fully well knowing, the internal situation in Pakistan, that shows, that at present Pakistan is severely caught in the coils of a ferocious turbulence, the genesis of which stems from the demands for re-organization of States in Pakistan on ethnic and linguistic considerations. India is also aware that the overwidening hiatus between Pushtoons and Mahajirs in Karachi, has become unbridgeable, as three hundred people were killed in this blighted city in the deadliest month of July 2011 still invited Hina Rabbani Khar the young Foreign Minister of Pakistan for intense parleys. Such a meeting was inevitably bound to prove a non-sequitur.

Full credit goes to Hina Rabbani Khar, the brilliant, dashing smart and stylish youngster from the jetset sybaritic family of Khars, who with a broad smile, completely flummoxed the ageing old Geezer Mr. S.M. Krishna. He in his nervousness could cobble up together some incoherent, pretentious, high flown, high sounding words, more suitable to a fawner, assuring the Foreign Minister of Pakistan about India’s sincerity towards “Pakistan Integrity.”

The parleys were full of platitudes, and a lot of words were scattered higgledy piggledy about the resolution of Kashmir dispute. The two high powered executives agreed to obvious procrastination.

Hina was able to achieve her target, as procrastination should now enable Pakistan and China to announce formally about a defense pact. They are not announcing it, as they expect Iran to join them soon within a year.

A new regional situation is emerging in South Asia. It is in the interest of Pakistan and China to push the Kashmir issue to the back burner to divert attention from the construction of a huge dam in Gilgit by the Chinese P.L.A.

Indians have no answer to these questions of new emerging regional formations in South Asia. They vainly hope Pakistan would implode, but China has already shored up Pakistan. Indo-Pak parleys have shown that true politics is after all the end game of crass crackpots. This is the lesson which history teaches us.

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Rebel Government Opens Libyan Embassy In Washington

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Washington — The Libyan Embassy in Washington officially re-opened Thursday under the control of the Transitional National Council, a senior State Department official and the new Libyan ambassador told CNN.

Ali Aujali, the former Libyan ambassador to the United States, was formally accredited Thursday as the head of the Libyan mission.

“This is a message that Gadhafi can no more rule Libya,” Aujali said in a phone interview. “The recognition of this embassy under the leadership of the TNC is a clear message to the regime the U.S. recognizes the council and they recognize the new Libya.”

Calling the re-opening of the embassy “a great day for Libyan-American relations,” Aujali said “the Libyan people appreciate this very much.”

The move also allows Aujali to regain control of the embassy’s frozen bank account, worth about $13 million. Aujuli said he talked with State Department officials Thursday about the Obama administration’s efforts to help the TNC gain access to some $30 billion in frozen Libyan assets.

In March, the State Department ordered the embassy closed and expelled diplomats loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Aujali had resigned his post as the regime’s ambassador to the United States in February and has since represented the opposition in Washington.

The United States on July 15 recognized the rebel movement based in Benghazi as Libya’s rightful government.

The re-opening of the embassy comes amid internal strife in the rebel movement. Libyan Transitional National Council Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil has dismissed the rebels’ 14-member executive board following the death of the rebel government’s military commander, Gen. Abdel Fattah Younis, on July 28. But concerns have been raised that the mysterious assassination of Younis might have been carried out by feuding rebel groups.

NATO has been bombing Libya for more than four months under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians from troops loyal to Gadhafi. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli was shuttered and American personnel evacuated by sea and air in late February after the revolt erupted.

Libyan and U.S. officials held face-to-face talks in Tunisia last month, but Washington says the sole point of the meeting was to repeat its demand that Gadhafi “must go.”

Independent Incredible India Celebrates Corruption

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By Nick Langton

When Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ascends the ramparts of Old Delhi’s Red Fort on Monday to address the nation on the 64th anniversary of its independence, it will be as a political leader whose government, party, and personal reputation are seriously bruised. This will be Singh’s seventh Independence Day address since becoming prime minister in 2004.


Although Prime Minister Singh continues to be regarded as a man of personal integrity, the scandals on his watch have raised serious questions about his leadership. Photo: Flickr user World Economic Forum.

The speech is an opportunity to review his government’s achievements during the past year, highlight national challenges, and outline a vision for the future. At no point in Singh’s tenure, the longest of any Indian prime minister except Jawaharlal Nehru, has he or his party seemed so embattled.

The immediate problem is a string of high-level corruption scandals that has wracked the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. A year ago, Singh devoted one line of his Independence Day address to the issue of corruption, stating that government programs should be managed “more effectively, minimizing the chances of corruption and misuse of public money.” His reference to systemic corruption gave no hint of the grand corruption that would surface in subsequent months. First came charges of favoritism and kickbacks during preparations for the October 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, which led to the arrest of organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, a Congress Party stalwart. Next was the Adarsh Housing Society scam where the government was accused of irregularities in allocating expensive apartments in downtown Mumbai. The most debilitating blow was the 2G spectrum scam in which the now jailed telecommunications minister, A. Raja, was charged with under pricing licenses at an estimated cost to the government of a staggering $40 billion in lost revenues.

Corruption scandals are hardly new in India, but the scale of the alleged transgressions is unprecedented and public reaction strong. In April, veteran Gandhian activist Anna Hazare went on a hunger strike demanding that the government establish a lokpal, or ombudsman, office with broad powers to investigate corruption. Although Hazare’s India Against Corruption (IAC) movement has been criticized for its tactics, middle-class following, and alleged partisan bias, it raises widespread public concerns that cannot be ignored. The corruption debate has paralyzed parliament for months, with the political fallout spreading both within and outside of the UPA. In late July, in a move to protect its own credibility, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) removed its powerful chief minister in Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, on charges he misused his influence to allot valuable mining land to his sons.

Although Prime Minister Singh continues to be regarded as a man of personal integrity, the scandals on his watch have raised serious questions about his leadership. A technocrat not known for his skills as a political street fighter, he is often at the mercy of competing interests, including those within his own Congress Party led by Sonia Gandhi. Since the UPA government holds only 262 seats in the 552-seat Lok Sabha, it must piece together support from an on-again-off-again collection of allies to retain a majority. The government’s actions in response to the corruption scandal have reinforced the perception of weakness. A cabinet reshuffle in July was viewed as little more than window dressing. That the draft Lokpal Bill placed before parliament last week exempts the judiciary and elected officials from oversight, including the prime minister’s office, has compounded the problem. Whether or not the legal and constitutional arguments for the bill’s construction are valid, it is a public relations debacle. Anna Hazare has threatened to publicly burn copies of the draft and begin a new fast on August 16 if the government does not withdraw the current bill.

The corruption scandals and parliamentary gridlock have also raised economic concerns. Capital expenditure dropped during the first quarter of 2011, a possible sign of reduced investor confidence. In his Independence Day speech last year, Prime Minister Singh cited India’s relative success in avoiding the global economic slowdown. He noted high inflation as a challenge, especially for the poor, but said he was confident that the government would tackle it. Economic growth has dropped slightly during the year, with the prime minister’s Economic Advisory Council recently reducing its 2011-12 projection from 9 percent to 8.2 percent. While the government has been successful in bringing food inflation from a 22 percent high in February 2010 to 8.3 percent today, overall inflation hovers around 10 percent. This is above the government’s target of 5 percent, which is considered a safe threshold level if the economy is to avoid overheating.

In response to financial jitters following Standard and Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating last week, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee asserted that India would not be affected because its “fundamentals are strong.” But how strong are they? Despite a robust growth rate, industrial production slowed during the past year, and the government has not made progress on reforms in the energy, land, and education sectors that are needed for India to maximize its advantages, such as the “demographic dividend” from a growing workforce. As finance minister in 1991, Manmohan Singh played a historic role in unleashing the economic transformation that India has undergone during the past two decades. As leader of a weak coalition today, he seems unable to push through the second generation of economic and governance reforms that would help to secure his own legacy as a transformational leader.

While Prime Minister Singh’s speech on Monday is unlikely to outline bold new initiatives, it provides an important opportunity for him to candidly address the nation’s challenges and outline his personal vision. To some extent, India’s economic growth and continuing rise as a global power are inexorable given the current momentum, but riding the wave is not enough. Long-term growth that is stable and inclusive requires effective leadership and good governance. Corruption scandals during the past year and parliamentary dysfunction have hindered the ability of Prime Minister Singh and the UPA government to drive needed reforms, especially as coalition members begin to eye elections in 2014.

India’s Nationalists vs Separatists

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In a rather peculiar demand, the opposition BJP on Wednesday sought the resignation of Home Minister P Chidambaram for Tuesday’s police action on its youth wing workers in Delhi. The party stalled Parliament on the issue, and sensing an opportunity to play the nationalist card, asserted that the UPA government had allowed separatist elements to congregate in the Capital while it “brutally” cracked down on those who raised the issue of corruption.

Though the main opposition party stalled both Houses – which drew criticism from the CPM with its leader Brinda Karat terming the stalling of Rajya Sabha as a “joint operation” of the BJP and the government – sources said the demand for the resignation or sacking of Chidambaram was mere posturing and the party would allow Parliament to function on Thursday.

Chidambaram wanted to give a statement in the House and he conveyed this to Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and his deputy S S Ahluwalia when Chairman Hamid Ansari met them in his chamber in the morning. But the BJP was not willing to listen to a statement “prepared by the Delhi Police”, and insisted Chidambaram offer his resignation.

Three killed in India land protest

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Three people have been killed after the police fired on a group of protesting farmers on a highway in western India.


Land acquisition is a highly sensitive issue in India

More than 20 policemen were injured in the clash which took place on the highway connecting the cities of Mumbai (Bombay) and Pune on Tuesday.

The farmers were protesting against the proposed diversion of water from a local dam to factories in the area.

The police said it fired after protesters turned violent and refused to lift the blockade.

Reports said that thousands of farmers had gathered on the busy highway to protest the planned “diversion of water” from the nearby Pavana dam to the industrial township of Pimpri-Chinchwad.

The farmers say there would be a scarcity of water for farming and drinking once the proposed pipeline cutting through farmlands is built to supply water to the factories.

They also fear that their land would be acquired by the government to build the pipeline.

The police said the protest became violent after a meeting of the protesters on the highway.

“After the meeting got over, they started hurling stones at policemen and damaging police van. We had decided not to use force but when the farmers got violent we had no option but to open fire,” police officer Sandeep Karnik was quoted as saying by The Hindu newspaper.

The Pune demonstrations are in a series of protests in the country over attempts to acquire land for industry or infrastructure development.

In May two policemen and a farmer were killed in northern Uttar Pradesh state after protests against land acquisition by the government turned violent.

In August 2008 at least four farmers were been killed and 50 others – including policemen – injured in clashes in a suburb of the capital Delhi.

The farmers were demanding compensation for land brought by the government.

Correspondents say acquisition of land for the expansion of cities and industrialisation in India has become a very sensitive issue as about 65% of the population is dependent on farming.

According to law, government can requisition any private land for a “public purpose”.

For India’s prime minister, corruption refuses to stay ‘at arm’s length’

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NEW DELHI – Like an honest man surrounded by thieves, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is finding that his own reputation for personal integrity is proving hard to maintain.

India’s Parliament has been in uproar this week as the opposition demands that Singh answer accusations that he deliberately turned a blind eye to rampant corruption within his cabinet and party.

The damage to his reputation is significant and is only going to get worse, political analysts say.

“It doesn’t suggest he had his hand in the till,” said columnist and broadcaster Karan Thapar. “But it is either negligence, a lack of vigilance, or he was aware and deliberately turned his eye in the other direction – which is perilously close to complicity.”

The main charge is that Singh was in the know when then-Telecommunications Minister A. Raja gave away valuable telecom licenses for dirt-cheap prices in 2008, cheating the exchequer of up to $40 billion.

Singh even wrote to Raja at one point asking him to adopt a fairer system of allocating the licenses. After his advice was brushed aside by the now-jailed minister, Singh asked to be kept “at arm’s length” from the process.

The prime minister’s office says Singh was merely keeping his distance because he did not want to be seen as favoring any particular company, while Congress party spokesman Manish Tewari says Singh was guilty of nothing more than trusting a colleague.

Others say the prime minister just needs to explain himself better. Sanjaya Baru, Singh’s former media adviser, blames “incompetence” in the communications team at the prime minister’s office since Baru left.

But there is no denying that Singh’s image has been dented.

The prime minister is also accused of ignoring warnings from his ministers about rampant corruption in the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, for which games organizer and former Congress stalwart Suresh Kalmadi has been jailed.

Abroad, Singh’s reputation soars above most of the world’s political leaders, for his humility, integrity and intellect. President Obama calls him a good friend and says “the whole world listens” when Singh talks. Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and an Egyptian presidential challenger, once described him as “the model of what a political leader should be.”

But at home, cartoonists show Singh drowning in a sea of corruption. Forbes magazine may have ranked Singh the 18th-most-powerful person in the world, but political analysts in India wonder whether he controls even his own cabinet.

“He has let himself down, and he has let the people of India down,” said historian Ramachandra Guha. “He appears weak and indecisive . . . and he is seen as lacking authority to implement his own decisions.”

Critics say Singh, who holds an unelected position in the upper house of Parliament, lacks political credibility within his party by virtue of never having won a constituency seat in India. But the soft-spoken, almost timid economist-turned-politician also lacks the deftness to survive in the rough and tumble of Indian politics, commentators say, and the ability to forge alliances within his rowdy coalition and with the opposition.

He was also dealt a poor hand right from the start, when he was nominated as prime minister in 2004 because Congress leader Sonia Gandhi did not want the role – a convenient frontman for a party that remains deeply divided and corrupt.

Then, after elections in 2009, Singh appeared to have had little role in the formation of his cabinet, as coalition allies demanded – and received – particular ministries in return for their support.

“They chose portfolios where everybody knew you could make money, where discretion was involved and massive investment was taking place,” said Bharat Bhushan, editor of the Mail Today newspaper. “The PM was never his own master.”

Singh will always have a place in history as the finance minister who ushered in sweeping reforms in 1991 that unleashed the Indian economy’s potential and set the stage for two decades of growth.

But that record has arguably also been tarnished in the past year as the government drags its feet over a second round of economic reforms the country still desperately needs, as the economy slows and inflation runs rampant.

For now, Singh, 78 years old and the survivor of two heart bypass operations, is likely to continue as India’s leader until elections in 2014, partly because he has no serious challengers from within the Congress party, analysts say. But as one leading magazine proclaimed in a recent cover story on Singh, the latest allegations may represent “The End of an Aura.”

Understanding the ‘Christian fundamentalist’ label

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Given initial suspicions that Friday’s bombing and mass shooting in Norway were carried out by Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda, the way police ended up describing the suspect behind the attacks came as a big surprise even to many security experts: The alleged attacker was called a “Christian fundamentalist.”

But experts on European politics and religion say that the Christian fundamentalist label could overstate the extent to which the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik – who has told authorities that he carried out the attacks – was motivated by religion, and the extent to which he is tied to a broader religious movement.

“It is true that he sees himself as a crusader and some sort of Templar knight,” said Marcus Buck, a political science professor at Norway’s University of Tromso, referring to an online manifesto that Breivik appears to have authored and which draws inspiration from medieval Christian crusaders.

My Take: Norway attacks shows terrorism isn’t just Islamic

“But he doesn’t seem to have any insight into Christian theology or any ideas of how the Christian faith should play any role in Norwegian or European society,” Buck wrote in an email message. “His links to Christianity are much more based on being against Islam and what he perceives of as ‘cultural Marxism.'”

From what the 1,500-page manifesto says, Breivik appears to have been motivated more by an extreme loathing of European multiculturalism that has accompanied rapid immigration from the developing world, and of the European Union’s growing powers, than by Christianity.

“My impression is that Christianity is used more as a vehicle to unjustly assign some religious moral weight,” to his political views, said Anders Romarheim, a fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. “It is a signifier of Western culture and values, which is what they pretend to defend.”

“I would say they are more anti-Islam than pro-Christian,” Romarheim said in reference to what appear to be Breivik’s views.

The manifesto is religion-obsessed in that it rants for long stretches against Muslims and their growing presence in Europe.

Who is Anders Behring Breivik?

It calls for a European civil war to overthrow governments, end multiculturalism and execute “cultural Marxists.” The manifesto includes a link to a video asserting that the majority of Europe’s population will be Muslim by 2050 “unless we manage to defeat the ruling Multiculturalist Alliance.”

The author of the document identifies himself as Breivik, but CNN could not independently verify that he wrote the document, and Norwegian authorities would not confirm that the man in their custody wrote the manifesto, saying it was part of their investigation

Opposition to booming Muslim immigration to Europe, exacerbated by high birth rates in the Muslim community, has become a mainstay of Europe’s burgeoning far-right, helping right-wing parties gain seats in parliaments across the continent.

But those right-wing movements are mostly secular. Europe’s hard right does not have deep ties to Christianity in the way that the United States’ conservative movement is entwined with evangelical Christianity and other theologically conservative religious movements.

A far-right comeback in Europe

Recently adopted European laws aimed at curbing Islam’s public visibility, including France’s new burqa ban and Switzerland ban on minarets – towers that a part of mosques – were secular causes, not ones championed by Christian interests. Many Christian groups oppose such bans.

“The bulk of the anti-Muslim sentiment is not against Muslims as such, but is a secular rejection of how some Muslims allegedly want to place Islam at the center of society,” Buck said. “It is more anti-religious than anti-Muslim.”

Breivik’s apparent manifesto, by contrast, cites biblical verses to justify violence for political ends.

“Clearly, this is not a pacifist God we serve,” it says. “It’s God who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. Over and over again throughout the Old Testament, His people are commanded to fight with the best weapons available to them at that time.”

“The biggest threat to Europe is the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist political doctrine of ‘extreme egalitarian emotionalism,'” the manifesto goes on. “This type of political stance involves destroying Christendom, the Church, our European cultures and identities and opening up our borders to Islamic colonization.”

The video that’s linked to in the manifesto also includes some religious language: “Celebrate us, the martyrs of the conservative revolution, for we will soon dine in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Experts on religion in Europe said those faith-infused views are likely peculiar to the suspected gunman and do not appear reflect wider religious movements, even as they echoes grievances of Europe’s right-wing political groups.

“He was a flaky extremist who might as well have claimed to be fighting for the honor of Hogwarts as for the cause of Christ,” said Philip Jenkins, a Pennsylvania State University professor who studies global religion and politics, describing the suspected Norway attacker. “He did not represent a religious movement. … People should not follow that Christian fundamentalist red herring.”

At the same time, Breivik told investigators during interviews that he belongs to an international order, The Knights Templar, according to Norwegian newspaper VG, which cited unnamed sources.

He described the organization as an armed Christian order, fighting to rid the West of Islamic suppression, the newspaper said. He also told investigators he had been in contact with like-minded individuals and said he counts himself as a representative of this order, it said.

For many in Norway, the potential implications of the suspected killer’s religion are still settling in.

“This is the first time we’ve heard of Christianity/religion as a driving force behind right-wing extremism,” Buck said. “The mainstream right-wing movements in the Nordic countries (very small and disorganized groups in Norway) would generally point to the Old Norse beliefs, if anything.”

“Norwegian, Nordic and European society,” he said, “were totally unprepared for a violent attack from someone who calls himself Christian.”