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Norway marking 10-year anniversary of massacre by far-right extremist

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Norwegian Labor Party officials and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven lay flowers at a memorial on Utoya Island, Norway, on July 21, 2021, one day before the 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks. (Photo by AFP)

Norway will mark the 10th anniversary of the worst attacks in its peacetime history in which a far-right extremist killed 77 people in the capital, Oslo, and on the island of Utoya.

A decade on, the anniversary will be an occasion of great sadness for many in the country of just over five million people. Several commemorative events are taking place on Thursday in the capital, Oslo, and on Utoya Island, where the attacks were carried out by Anders Behring Breivik.

On July 22, 2011, Breivik detonated a car bomb outside the prime minister’s office in Oslo, killing eight. Two hours later, dressed as a policeman, he attacked a summer camp for young members of the Labor Party on Utoya and massacred 69.

Before carrying out the attacks, he circulated a 1,500-page manifesto signed “Andrew Berwick,” the Anglicized version of his name, which expressed a far-right, anti-Muslim ideology.

In 2019, white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who said in a manifesto of his own that he had been inspired by Breivik, gunned down 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand. Nearly afterwards, a copycat attempt by Norwegian shooter Philip Manshaus took place when he killed his Chinese-born adopted sister over racist motives, and then opened fire at a mosque just outside Oslo. No one was injured in that shooting, though.

A decade after Breivik’s attacks, which were the fifth deadliest in Europe, survivors, many of whom were teenagers at the time, are determined to confront the far-right ideology that was a catalyst for the massacre.

“That there are people who still share Breivik’s ideas, that we have had another terrorist attack in Norway by someone deeply inspired by Breivik shows that we have failed to deal with the political aspect of the attack,” said Elin L’Estrange, who escaped the Utoya shootings by swimming away.

“I thought that Norway would positively change forever after the attacks. Ten years later, that hasn’t happened. And in many ways, the hate we see online and the threats against people in the Labor movement have increased,” said Aasmund Aukrust, who was the deputy leader of the Labor Youth Wing, who helped organize the camp. Breivik claimed that Labor was aiding what he called the “Islamization” of Europe.

Breivik was convicted of terrorism and premeditated murder and given the maximum sentence of 21 years’ imprisonment, which can be extended indefinitely by Norway’s judiciary as long as he is considered a threat to society.


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