By Paisley Dodds
LUTON, England — The leader of a British far-right group to which Anders Behring Breivik claims links called the attacks a sign of "growing anger" in Europe against Muslim immigrants.
Stephen Lennon, leader of the English Defense League, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he does not condone Breivik's rampage but "the fact that so many people are scared people have to listen to that."
"People should look at what happened in Oslo and understand that there is growing anger in Europe," said Lennon, 28. "You suppress people's rights you suppress people's voices and people will just continue to go underground — but that doesn't make the problem go away."
Backtracking on earlier denials of any link to Breivik, Lennon said he is in touch with regional EDL leaders to find out whether the gunman had contact with members of the group as he claims in his sprawling manifesto.
Breivik has also posted admiring comments about the EDL online and expressed a wish to attend its rallies.
"It could turn out that one of our members met with him but at this point we're not turning anything up," Lennon said.
Breivik has confessed to the twin attacks on Oslo's government district and a summer camp for the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labor Party that killed 76 people. He said he carried out the massacre to publicize his calls for expelling Muslims from Europe.
The act of right-wing terrorism stunned a continent that has been grappling with a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment amid faltering economies, rising unemployment, and ongoing fears about Islamic terror plots.
Lennon said he has recently taken his group touring in Germany, France and the Netherlands, and finds rising European support for xenophobic groups like his.
"They're going to get bigger and bigger," he said.
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Copyright 2011 Associated Press