Bjorn Ihler learn Anders Breivik’s guide solely per week after leaping into lake Tyrifjorden in Norway to flee the terrorist’s bullets.
Bjorn was one of many survivors on Utoya island the place Breivik killed 77 folks in July 2011.
What Bjorn discovered within the far-right “manifesto” shocked him.
“His worldview was not purely pushed by hatred,” he says. “It was rather more about worry of what was occurring to his society.
“This was a man who grew up in the identical metropolis as me, we had comparable backgrounds, we went to comparable faculties, however he noticed the world in a totally totally different approach.”
Since this expertise, 26-year-old Bjorn devoted his life to attempting to maintain different younger folks from following the same path to Breivik.
In search of extremists
He has scoured the web and seeks out extremists and former extremists to know how they got here to their views.
He claims the bizarre and unenviable document of assembly extra reformed extremists than anybody else.
And he’s now one of many leaders in a challenge speaking to college students in UK faculties about extremist concepts.
Bjorn says that earlier than Breivik appeared in courtroom after the assault, folks have been describing him a “super-intellectual far-right monster”.
In an echo of Harry Potter’s nemesis Lord Voldemort, some have been calling Breivik “He Who Should Be Named”.
However when Bjorn noticed Breivik within the dock, he realised he was now not in danger from him.
“I made a decision that the issue to handle proper now’s all of the individuals who share his mindset,” he says.
Bjorn is a part of an initiative known as Extremely Together, a partnership involving the Kofi Annan Basis, One Younger World and the European Fee.
Not shutting down debate
Bjorn’s major advice for faculties is that they train college students that individuals are allowed to carry very totally different concepts and opinions.
“I wish to see a category educating important considering or philosophy in each faculty,” he says.
“College students have to study to analyse the knowledge they obtain, and to know that there are numerous methods to interpret info, somewhat than see the world as black and white.”
He’s involved that many training methods are “shutting down important considering and educating propaganda”.
Bjorn says lecturers ought to encourage college students to share concepts within the classroom, nevertheless disagreeable a few of the concepts may appear.
He says the mentorship of his outdated philosophy trainer helped him get via a troublesome 12 months following the assault.
“I used to be everywhere, I could not make sense of something, so I made a decision to name my outdated highschool philosophy trainer,” he says.
“He had taught me that individuals can see the world in numerous methods. If Breivik had had him as a trainer, I believe issues may have been very totally different.”
Towards ‘protected areas’
Bjorn says the pattern in the direction of protected areas in academic establishments is “extraordinarily harmful” as a result of it means lecturers are hesitant to permit dialogue of delicate topics.
“I’ve most likely met extra former extremists than anybody else, and one factor all of them shared was that nobody outdoors of their group would take heed to them,” he says.
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“They by no means felt they have been valued as human beings, they stated nobody would take heed to their concepts.
“The one method to cease folks from believing these concepts is to construct a tradition within the classroom the place they are often mentioned, analysed and criticised.”
He says this sense of alienation is a “driving power” for why folks flip violent. “If they can’t promote their worldview via democratic means, they do it via violence.”
International locations all over the world have been inspecting learn how to counter extremism in academic establishments.
Bjorn warns that an excessive amount of interference in faculties may “backfire” – if college students really feel they’re being unfairly focused, they may really feel focused and be extra vulnerable to radicalisation.
He argues that attempting to ban entry to extremist materials on-line is “not an answer”.
“Instructional establishments needs to be locations the place you might be allowed to have bizarre concepts and talk about them with out being reported to the police or have it present up in your document,” he says.
“There’s a distinction between safety and security, and faculties shouldn’t be locations the place concepts and opinions are policed.”