Norway commemorates the victims of the Breivik terror | free press


Oslo (dpa) – Every name hurts. All these 77 mainly young people, whose names will be read that afternoon on the island of Utøya, died exactly ten years ago in this place or earlier in the government district of Oslo.

Murdered by right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik in the worst act of violence Norway has witnessed since World War II. There is a minute of silence, after which Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Prime Minister Erna Solberg and others lay wreaths. A trumpet plays and if you like you can add roses, which have become the symbol of Norway’s response to terror.

Ten years after the terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya, Norway commemorated the 77 dead on Thursday. At commemorations at the two crime scenes and at various other locations around the country, many speakers drew attention to the ongoing struggle against hatred, right-wing extremism and racism, which is also being fought on the internet.

“Ten years ago, we met hate with love. But the hatred is still there,” former Norwegian Prime Minister and current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a memorial service at Oslo Cathedral. Every day we have to fight for democratic values, he said in view of racist and far-right acts in Norway, but also against terrorist attacks such as the Islamic attacks in Brussels and Paris. “The terrorists can choose to take lives, but we decide that they cannot take democracy, our free and open society, from us.”

Stoltenberg had been Prime Minister of the Scandinavian country at a time when his country was experiencing its worst post-war violence and Europe’s worst terrorist attacks ever. Right-wing extremist Breivik first detonated a bomb hidden in a white van on July 22, 2011, killing eight people in the government district of Oslo. He then drove to the island of Utøya, about 30 kilometers away, where he pretended to be a police officer and opened fire on participants in the annual summer camp of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party youth organization.

69 people, mostly teenagers and young adults, were killed on Utøya. Breivik cited right-wing extremist and Islamophobic motives for his actions. In August 2012, he was sentenced to the then maximum sentence of 21 years in preventive detention with a minimum term of ten years.

Despite the impressions of the atrocities and the internationally admired response of the Norwegians immediately after the attacks, the problem of hateful and far-right views has not disappeared even in the far north of Europe. On the contrary: a few days ago, a memorial site for a youth murdered for racial reasons in 2001 was sprayed with the message “Breivik was right”, and in August 2019 a young right-wing extremist attacked a mosque near Oslo on the eve of the Islamic Feast of the Sacrifice. After being overpowered and arrested by believers, police later found the body of his 17-year-old stepsister, whom he had killed with four gunshots.

According to a recently published Utøya study, every third person who survived the terror on the island has received hate messages and threats. Most of them attribute this to the fact that they were on Utøya on July 22, 2011.

“Not all hateful words lead to terror, but every terror starts with hateful words,” Utøya survivor and current head of the Labor Party youth organization Astrid WE Hoem said at a memorial in Oslo’s government district. Ten years after the attacks, it must be admitted that the hatred has not stopped. “We must now say once and for all that we do not accept racism and hatred. If we do that now, we can deliver on the promise of “no more July 22,” she said.