UN blasts media for linking Norway bloodbath with Islam

United Nations A top UN expert on religious freedom has blasted the media for linking the deadly attacks in Norway with Islamist terrorism.

The bombing and shooting rampage on Friday killed at least 76 people in Norway.

"The way in which some public commentators immediately associated the horrifying mass murder in Norway last Friday with Islamist terrorism is revealing and indeed an embarrassing example of the powerful impact of prejudices and their capacity to enshrine stereotypes," said Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

"Proper respect for the victims and their families should have precluded the drawing of conclusions based on pure conjecture," she said as quoted by the UN News.

After the blasts, the media and pundits speculated that the attack was probably due to Norway's troop presence in Afghanistan.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian national, a non-Muslim, has been arrested in connection with the attack.

Europe weighs tighter surveillance

The Norway massacres have prompted fresh calls in Europe for tighter gun control, restrictions on sales of explosive material and stepped up online surveillance of extremist groups.

Some governments were already weighing new legislation to guard against the ever-present threat of an extremist attack but many of those measures had stalled.

In the aftermath of Friday's mass slaughter, there have been demands across the continent for more stringent controls to be debated and Norway's neighbours have been among the quickest to act.

According to statistics published Tuesday in the Swedish paper Svenska Dagbladet, weapons prevalence in Scandinavia remains high, with 45 guns per 100 people in Finland, 32 in Sweden and 31 in Norway.

In Sweden, lawmakers from leading political parties called for tougher laws on weapons. Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said "the possibility of introducing new criteria for authorising the carrying of weapons" will be discussed.

Finland had already begun a review of gun control legislation following a series of three shootings over the past five years, which killed a total of 24 people.

But on Monday, deputy commissioner of the Finnish police Robin Lardot said his force plans to boost online surveillance for evidence of emerging extremist plots.

Lardot said Finland already paid attention extremist web traffic, conscious that fanatics often drop online hints about impending violence.

The 1,500-page manifesto posted online by Anders Behring Breivik before he killed at least 78 people was a further reminder that heinous crimes are frequently advertised online, the Finnish officer said.

Germany's top legislative body has also restarted debate on an electronic surveillance proposal that was first floated by Europe following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.