© Reuters. People lay roses in front of a memorial outside Oslo Cathedral ten years after the bombing on the islands of Oslo and Utoeya, in Oslo, Norway on July 22, 2021. NTB / Beate Oma Dahle / via REUTERS
By Nora Buli and Gwladys Fouché
OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian church bells rang for five minutes on Thursday to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right extremist, 77 people, mostly teenagers in a youth camp .
Breivik, a white supremacist who wanted to provoke a fascist revolution by violent means, detonated a car bomb outside the prime minister’s office in Oslo, killing eight people, before traveling to the island of Utoeya and shooting at 69 people at a Labor Party youth camp on July 22. , 2011.
On Thursday morning, Prime Minister Erna Solberg addressed a memorial service attended by survivors and relatives of the victims, political leaders and the Prince and Crown Princess of Norway.
“It hurts to think back to that dark day in July ten years ago. Today we cry together. Today we remember the 77 who never came home,” Solberg said.
The memorial took place in central Oslo outside what was once the prime minister’s office – an empty shell since the attack due to disagreements over how to rebuild it. Passers-by beyond the secure perimeter stopped to listen and some kissed as the names of the victims were read.
Breivik, 42, is serving a 21-year sentence, which can be extended indefinitely if he is seen as a continuing threat to society.
The debate on the attacks has evolved over the years. The survivors, many of whom were teenagers at the time, are now determined to confront the far-right ideology that was the catalyst for the attack.
This is a departure from Norway’s response at the time, which emphasized unity and consensus, with Jens Stoltenberg, the then Labor PM, calling the actions of Breivik’s attacks on Norway and democracy.
“Ten years later, we have to tell the truth. We have not stopped the hatred. Right-wing extremism is still alive,” said Astrid Hoem, leader of the Labor Party youth organization AUF and survivor of the Utoeya bombing, at the commemorative event.
“The terrorist was one of us. But he doesn’t define who we are – we do,” Hoem said.
After ten years, it was time to clearly reject racism and hate once and for all, Hoem said. “Because if we do it now, maybe we can keep our promise of ‘Never Again on July 22’.”
During a service in Oslo Cathedral, Stoltenberg, now NATO Secretary General, highlighted recent incidents of far-right violence, including continued death threats against survivors of the attacks and the vandalism of a memorial to 2001 teen hate crime victim Benjamin Hermansen with the slogan “Breivik was right” earlier this week.
“Ten years ago we met hate with love. But the hate is still there,” Stoltenberg said. “We are reminded again and again that democracy has not been won once and for all. We have to fight for it day in and day out.
After the service, at 12:10 p.m. CET (10:10 a.m. GMT), church bells across the country rang for five minutes.
Ten years ago, the Norwegian public expressed their sadness with red roses – a Labor Party symbol – and other flowers in front of the cathedral and on Thursday passers-by again wear roses in the same place in tribute.
The victims of Utoeya have come from all parts of the country and memorial services are being held across Norway, with people laying flowers in other towns as well.
Later there will also be a ceremony on Utoeya and the day will end with an evening ceremony in Oslo where King Harald will speak.
A group of survivors created a @aldriglemme (Never forget) Twitter account to repost tweets about the attack as they appeared 10 years ago.