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In 2011, the fascist Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb in central Oslo before travelling to Utøya island where he opened fire on children on a camping holiday. Overall, Breivik murdered 77 people whilst he injured over 300. While Breivik has been behind bars since committing the atrocities of 2011, his name has been back in the news after the terrorist behind the barbaric attacks on two New Zealand mosques claims that Breivik (through his proxies) offered his support for the atrocities in Christchurch.
In many respects, the Australian terrorist of Christchurch infamy acted in a manner that sought to copy the methods and mentality of Breivik. This including the drafting of a political manifesto that was published online just before the beginning of the attack.
Going back to 2011, it is helpful to remember that in addition to citing figures from European history as inspirations for his attack, Breivik also extolled what he thought to be the virtues of the Hindutva ideology. But far from distancing himself from Breivik, former BJP Indian parliamentarian B.P. Singhal openly revelled in Breivik’s anti-Islamic cause. In 2011, Singhal stated:
“I was with the shooter in his objective, but not in his method. If you want to attract the nation’s attention, surely you need to do something drastic and dramatic, but not killing people”.
Whilst Singhal’s qualified support for Breivik is both disturbing and distasteful, Singhal then went on to qualify his initial qualified remarks by apparently justifying violence against Muslims. According to Singhal, the Holy Quran is “violent” and as such, sometimes “violence must be fought with violence”.
But far from being an aberration, Singhal’s support for a fascist European killer follows on from a long line of Hindutva politicians and theorists who openly praised Adolf Hitler and other extreme European leaders. Hindutva’s founding father Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an unabashed admirer of both Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and fascist Italy’s Benito Mussolini. Beyond this, Savarkar blamed European Jewry for the Holocaust and went on to compare his own views on south Asian Muslims with Hitler’s views on European Jews.
At one point, Savarkar stated that Indian Muslims should be treated in the way that African Americans were treated in the United States during the Jim Crow Era, even though this racist remark was mild compared to his desire to create a Hindutva empire that would see Pakistan (West and East as it was at the time) wiped off the map.
With the revival of Hindutva extremism under the BJP government of Narendra Modi, a fascination with Hitler and European fascism in India has likewise been documented by foreign observers. As recently as 2017, even the BBC recognised that neo-fascists in Europe and North America were reviving the concept that Hindutva extremism and white supremacist extremism should cooperate in order to fulfil various socially exclusive goals. In particular, the BBC noted how 21st century western fascists have come to admire the European born Hindu convert and promoter of Hindutva ideology Savitri Devi as a figure of inspiration.
Just months ago, Qatari broadcaster and news outlet al-Jazeera observed that based on both pre-Hitler theories on how central Europeans were related to ancient Indo-Aryans and also due to a shared contemporary hatred of Muslim people and the religion of Islam, the world had witnessed a burgeoning growth in a political and ideological alliance between western fascists and Hindutva extremists in India and beyond.
But the story does not end there. Through the power of the internet, it is now possible for western fascists to watch English language Hindutva television programmes on a 24/7 basis. While there is plenty of western pro-fascist material to occupy the time of western extremists, because Indian media tends to give extremist views a veneer of respectability that is otherwise missing in much of Europe and North America, Hindutva propaganda is in many respects the perfect way for western fascists to both gain inspiration and to further internationalise their cause.
Thus far, Turkey’s broadcaster TRT World has been helpful in offering the wider world a critical glimpse of the hateful rhetoric that spews continually from pro-BJP platforms as well as in film.
The growing ties between the western fascist revival and India’s increasingly prominent Hindutva socio-political movement continue to receive only marginal attention. And yet, while the BJP’s militant wing RSS continue to promote violence in India, Europe and the west as a whole are sleepwalking into an era in which a western version of RSS may well be right around the corner.
If people throughout the world are genuinely concerned with ebbing the flow of extremism, the Hindutva-Fascist axis must be both named and shamed.