Turning away from terror

By Simon Barrow
July 23, 2011

While Christianity is full of 'redemption stories' about people whose newly found beliefs have helped turn them away from crime, drugs and violence, the Norwegian terrorist tragedy has turned up a Humanist variant - in connection with the collation of information about alleged gunman Anders Behring Breivik.

It turns out that philosopher and Middle East commentator Lars Gule engaged in online conversation with Breivik via a right-wing website some time before the attacks in which he is now implicated.

Gule is a former aide to terrorists who turned towards Humanism, rejected armed violence, and now seeks to work for social justice and to understand the roots of conflict and terror.

Back in 1977 he was arrested in Beirut for carrying explosives intended for an attack in Israel on behalf of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He spent time in prison after being convicted in Lebanon for illegal possession of weapons.

Gule told the BBC today (23 July 2011) that it was important to try to engage with extremists and those tempted towards violence, both in order to look at how they think, and also to argue for the importance of valuing life and rejecting tactics which are essentially "anti-human".

From 2000 to 2005 he was Secretary General of the Norwegian Humanist Association. Lars Gule is now employed at Oslo University as a post-doctoral research fellow.


Simon Barrow is co-director of the beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia.

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