Sanity issue 'blurs Breivik trial'

Muslim leaders in Norway fear the anti-Islamic ideology of far-right fanatic Anders Breivik, on trial for killing 77 people, is being overshadowed by questions about his mental state.

The self-described anti-Muslim militant shocked Norway on July 22 with a bombing and shooting rampage targeting the government headquarters and the Labour Party's annual youth camp.

Since he has admitted the attacks, the key issue for the trial is to determine whether Norwegian Breivik, 33, is sane enough to be held criminally responsible.

"I'm not a psychiatrist, but what is important is what he has done. That should be the focus, not how crazy he is," said Mehtab Afsar, head of the Islamic Council in Norway, an umbrella organisation of Muslim groups in the country. "He wants to get rid of Muslims and Islam from Europe. That is his main message. So I don't see the point of using so much energy on 'is he normal, is he insane?'."

Breivik told the court his victims had betrayed Norway by opening the country to immigration and called for a "patriotic" revolution aimed at deporting Muslims from Europe.

In a 1,500-page manifesto he posted online before the attacks, Breivik frequently cited anti-Islamic bloggers who say Muslims are gradually colonising Europe. But so far, much of the trial has focused on his mental health rather than his ideology.

Some Muslims question the validity of pathologising Breivik, saying the Norwegian is easily comparable to Islamic terrorists.

"Nobody questioned Osama bin Laden's sanity," said Usman Rana, a doctor and newspaper columnist, following Friday prayers at one of Oslo's largest mosques, the Sufi-inspired World Islamic Mission. "I believe he (Breivik) is sane, definitely. Those who think he is insane don't know anything about terrorism."

The first of two psychiatric reports concluded that Breivik was psychotic and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia; the second report deemed him sane enough to go to prison for his crimes.

He has admitted all his actions and freely explained to prosecutors the planning and execution of his terror attack, only refusing to explain anything concerning other members of Knights Templar, his alleged anti-Islamic militant network. Prosecutors believe the network does not exist.