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Coming to terms with terror
Date:11/23/2011

How will the terrorist attacks in Norway on 22 July change the country? That question has been put to three social scientists at the University of Stavanger (UiS).

"Norwegians are still in a state of shock," says professor Odd Einar Olsen. "These incidents were so extensive and gruesome that people need time to come to terms with them."

He is very interested to see what content Norway will give to promises made about more openness and democracy after the car-bombing in Oslo and the massacre at Utya north of the capital.

"While people have united in sorrow, a crippling consensus has emerged that certain subjects can't be discussed. That's a sinister development which could undermine necessary criticism."

To illustrate his case, Prof Olsen points to the debate on the data storage directive, a security measure adopted earlier in Norway this year.

"If this discussion had arisen now, it would have been conducted very differently," he maintains. "Opponents would have been much more cautious and unassertive."

He regards that as a major challenge for the future, and fears that the trend will be towards an extension of over-exaggerated surveillance and many additional security measures.

"The media picture is characterised by calls for 'something to be done', and an expansion in security is the response," Prof Olsen notes.

"It's frightening to read articles shrieking for more sharpshooters and special forces with a 'licence to kill'.

"The danger with the crippling consensus is that nobody dares to question what's happening. Society will be transformed. Slowly but surely, we're shifting towards a security regime characterised by intelligence gathering and surveillance."

No greater threat

He is backed by fellow professor Ole Andreas Engen and postdoctoral researcher Bjrn Ivar Kruke, who say the terrorist threat in Norway is no greater than it was before 22 July.

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Contact: Ole Andreas Engen
ole.a.engen@uis.no
47-518-31858
University of Stavanger
Source:Eurekalert

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