Bells ring in Norway to mark 10 years since neo-Nazi Breivik killed 77
- Breivik killed 8 people in a car bomb in Oslo; 69 on the neighboring island
- The focus shifts from consensus to fighting far-right ideology
OSLO, July 22 (Reuters) – Church bells rang across Norway 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.
In a solemn speech that closed a day of remembrance, King Harald said Norway must inform future generations of the events of July 22, 2011.
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 in a Labor Party youth camp.
“Certain dates are inscribed in the history of our country as defining days. Days which, in different ways, have helped to make us what we are today”, declared the king during a commemorative concert televised.
The nation owes all those killed, their loved ones and herself to pass on the lessons of July 22 to future generations, he added.
“At the same time, we have to recognize that as a society we haven’t done enough to see, to help, to bear the burden together – and to counter the dark forces.”
Events began outside what was once the Prime Minister’s office – still an empty shell today. Passers-by beyond the secure perimeter stopped to listen and some kissed as the names of the victims were read.
“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 returned,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said during of this event.
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. Read more
This is a change from Norway’s response at the time, which emphasized unity and consensus.
“HATE IS ALWAYS THERE”
“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, Jens Stoltenberg – who was Prime Minister of the Labor Party at the time of the murders and is now NATO Secretary General – highlighted recent incidents of far-right violence, including continued death threats against survivors of the attacks.
A memorial to Benjamin Hermansen, a teenage victim of hate crimes in 2001, was also vandalized earlier this week with the slogan “Breivik was right”.
“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.
Church bells rang for five minutes after the service, starting at 1210 CET (1010 GMT).
Ten years ago, people brought red roses – a symbol of the Labor Party – and other flowers to the cathedral. Passers-by repeated this tribute on Thursday.
Memorial services were held across Norway, highlighting the fact that the victims had come from all parts of the country.
Boats floated along the fjord towards Utoeya Island, a reminder of the ships that came to rescue survivors a decade ago.
A group of survivors created a @aldriglemme (Never Forget) Twitter account posting minute-by-minute events as they unfolded 10 years ago, including tweets from that day.
Report by Gwladys Fouché and Nora Buli; Editing by Giles Elgood, Raissa Kasolowsky and Andrew Heavens
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