Norwegian massacre highlights issues in Grantham

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My original column this week was going to be on parking and residential schemes, but after the events of this weekend in Norway, I feel that subject can wait a while.

As of writing this, Anders Behring Brevick has admitted carrying out a massacre on an island youth camp in Norway. When the true horror of this event came to light on Saturday morning, I was appalled and shocked. I was glued to the rolling news channels, only imagining how the parents of these children must have been feeling.

As an avid user of Twitter, I saw people initially blaming “Islamist terrorists” for this atrocity. Then it came to light that a Norwegian, one of their own, with strong Christian fundamentalist, right wing views had been arrested for the crime.

This man, aged 32, had posted YouTube videos and a 1500-page manifesto outlining his views. Views which fear the “danger” of multiculturalism, which aim to protect the nation from “intruders”, and which seek to reap vengeance on those he holds responsible for the changes he sees.

I am a similar age to Anders. I too have seen the results of mass immigration on our town and our country. Whereas I understand why people would be concerned about how a national identity can be changed due to high levels of immigration, I do not agree that it is something we should consider a threat to our country.

I do, however, think that it is time we looked at and debated what our town can do to ensure that people of all cultures, backgrounds and faiths are welcomed and helped to feel part of our community.

I look at Grantham and I see segregated communities, I see fear of other cultures and other Nationalities. I see shops where no products are labelled in English, and I see entire communities not engaging with the political process. Is this right? Should we keep our lives and communities separate from one another?

I don’t think we should, but what can be done to bring the people of Grantham together, regardless of their nationality, religion or background?

by David Burling