When terrorism threaten our society it is important that political leaders clearly states the values that are under attack, and how important it is to protect them. In order to maintain societal values such as freedom and participation, the citizens must be encouraged and helped to fight their fear of terrorism.
It is highly important to reduce the fear of terrorism and keep the wheels running – terrorism is not war. The Norwegian people have a high threshold for panic, and there is a societal tradition not to overreact.
Lars Weisæth, researcher on terrorism
Leaders must act in a calm and unifying way, and give direction to the population. It is essential to emphasize the jointly shared societal values, and at the same time encourage people to live their lives as normal as possible, while being alert. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack a leader should express the joint feelings of the citizens, and it is important not to let anger and fear dominate. Still, leaders must keep in mind that victims of terrorism and those who are bereaved:
- have the right to be angry and feel hate towards the perpetrators
- can not be expected to act in accordance with overall aims
The authorities must inform and explain about the measures they use to ensure the populations safety. While, the citizens must be more alert in order to inform the authorities about suspicious activities. In situations where key values are threatened, the interaction between national authorities and their citizens becomes essential. Efficient leadership and precise information from the authorities can reduce rumors, fear and distrust.