Norway celebrates decade since Anders Breivik killed 77 people

Norway celebrates decade since Anders Breivik killed 77 people

Norway has started commemorations marking 10 years since far-right striker Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in the country’s worst act of violence since World War II.
On July 22, 2011, Breivik detonated a car bomb outside the Prime Minister’s office in the capital Oslo, killing eight people. Later that same day, he traveled to Utoya Island disguised as a police officer and carried out a shootout at a Labor Party youth camp, killing 69 people, most of them teenagers.

Thursday’s commemorative events began with a memorial service outside what was once the prime minister’s office – an empty shell since the attack due to disagreements over how to rebuild it.

The service, which was broadcast on television, was attended by Prime Minister Erna Solberg, survivors and relatives of the victims, political leaders and members of the Norwegian royal family.

Memorial events took place across Norway on Thursday, with many members of the public participating in the national day of remembrance [Beate Oma Dahle/NTB via Reuters]

Outside the guarded area, passers-by stopped to listen and some kissed as the names of the victims were read.

“It hurts to think back to that gloomy July day 10 years ago. Today we cry together. Today we remember the 77 who never made it home, ”Solberg said in a speech on the site.

“The terror of July 22 was an attack on our democracy,” she added, before calling on the Norwegians to build “a fortified bulwark against intolerance and hate speech, for empathy and tolerance. And “do not leave hatred unopposed”.

“Extremism is still alive”

Breivik, 42, is serving a 21-year sentence which can be extended indefinitely if he is seen as a continuing threat to society. He will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The debate over his attacks has changed over the years. The survivors, many of whom were teenagers at the time of the attack, are now determined to confront the far-right ideology that inspired him.

This marks a departure from Norway’s response at the time, when Labor Prime Minister and current NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg pledged to respond with ‘more democracy’ and ‘more of humanity ”.

Victims of the Breivik attacks in 2011 came from all over Norway, and a variety of memorials to them are scattered across the country [File: Odd Andersen/AFP]

Astrid Hoem, leader of the Labor Party youth organization AUF and survivor of the Utoya massacre, told Thursday’s commemoration event that Norway had “not stopped hate” a decade after the attacks on Breivik.

“Ten years later, we have to tell the truth… Right-wing extremism is still alive,” she said.

“They live on the Internet, they live around the table, they live in a lot of people than a lot [other] people are listening.

Norwegian intelligence services issue warning

Hoem also urged Norway, home to 5.3 million people, to fully face racism with the aim of eradicating it from society and avoiding another tragedy.

“If we do it now, maybe we can keep our promise of ‘Never Again on July 22’,” she said.

“The terrorist was one of us. But it doesn’t define who we are – we do.

Hoem’s remarks came after the Norwegian Intelligence Service (PST) warned this week that “the far-right ideas” that inspired Breivik are “still a driving force for right-wing extremists at home and abroad. foreign ”.

Breivik is serving a 21-year sentence which can be extended indefinitely if seen as a continuing threat to society [File: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP]

Breivik’s actions have inspired several violent attacks over the past 10 years, the PST said, including those targeting mosques in the New Zealand cities of Christchurch and Oslo.

Tuesday, a memorial dedicated to Benjamin Hermansen, killed by neo-Nazis in 2001, was disfigured by the slogan “Breivik was right”.

The act has been strongly condemned by politicians and the public and is currently under investigation by police.

Long term trauma

Thursday’s initial event was followed by a service at Oslo Cathedral, after which church bells rang across the country for five minutes starting at noon local time.

A ceremony on Utoya is scheduled for later in the afternoon.

The day’s commemorative events are expected to end with an evening ceremony in Oslo during which Norwegian King Harald is expected to speak.

A group of survivors have created a Twitter account – @aldriglemme (Never forget) – to repost tweets about the attacks as they appeared 10 years ago.

Breivik attacks rocked Norway, a country of 5.3 million people, marking its worst peacetime massacre [File: Frank Augstein/AP Photo]

For many survivors, the psychological trauma of the events of 2011 remains an open wound.

A third of them were still suffering from serious health problems last year, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and headaches, according to a recent article from the Norwegian Center for studies on violence and traumatic stress.

“If someone tells me today that they want me dead, I take it very seriously,” Elin L’Estrange, a survivor, told AFP news agency.


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