Utoya survivor: Important to ‘regain normality’

Utoya guest lecturer and terror-attack survivor Ali Esbati tells The Local why it's important that the Labour Party's youth wing summer camp is up and running again, and explains the organization's plans to return to the island where 69 members lost their lives.

Utoya survivor: Important to 'regain normality'
A 2001 file photo of Utoya Island. File photo: Thomas Bjørnflaten/Scanpix

"It's important to show they can regain normality in one sense, because the summer camps have played a very important role for the organization," said Ali Esbati of the think tank Manifest. The Swede, who has lived in Norway for more than five years, was one of the people who "ran and survived" the Anders Behring Breivik attack two years ago. 

As The Local reached him on the phone, Esbati had just stepped off the bus at Tyri Fjord, near Oslo, the site of the first summer camp held since the terror attacks that shocked Norway and the world, and said the atmosphere is joyous. 

"Obviously, apart from the immense shock that the attack two years ago meant, there has been something missing from the organization, and now they can regain that in one way," he said.

"I'm sure a lot of them will (discuss the attacks). The way in which people handled the attacks two years ago is very different from individual to individual. Some people don't want to think about it all, others want to discuss it a lot, and many would be somewhere in between," said Esbati.

"But as far as I can see, having been here just for a few minutes, the young kids are having a lot of fun, and want to listen to speeches and go to lectures."

The camp is not being held on Utoya Island, but the AUF has not ruled out rebuilding part of the houses, and potentially using it again for summer camps. 

The summer camps are a staple of the ruling Labour Party's membership culture, with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg telling this year's attendees that he himself went to his first summer camp in 1974.

"This was before iPhones and iPads and we had to pen actual postcards to our parents," Stoltenberg said. "Often we'd arrive home before our postcards." 

Plans to rebuild Utoya has broad support in the youth wing, Esbati said, but there are those who do not agree. 
"Of course, there have been some dissenting voices – both among relatives of the survivors and others," he said.
"The AUF leadership has been very clear they don't want to rush things, and that they take any dissenting voices very seriously. Of course, things are emotional and things take time," he added.
"So it might not be next year or even the year after that, I don't know, but meanwhile it's important that things don't [grind to a] halt during the summer." 
Esbati said that current discussion about returning to Utoya focused on rebuilding some of the houses, but reiterated that the plans aren't final.
"It won't look just like it did before the attacks – both for practical and emotional reasons."

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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday 

Find out what's going on in Norway on Tuesday with The Local's short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday 
Oslo Operahus .Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

Only one in ten Norwegians plan to travel abroad this summer 

Around ten percent of people in Norway are planning to take a holiday abroad this summer, according to a survey carried out by tourism organisation NHO Reiseliv.

Seven out of ten respondents said they still plan to holiday in Norway this year, even if they receive a vaccination before the holidays start.

READ MORE: ‘My arguments didn’t matter’: How I ended up in a hotel quarantine in Norway 

Viken and Vestland are this year’s most popular travel destinations for Norwegians planning a “staycation”. Young people were the most likely to want to remain in Norway this summer. Just under half of those aged between 18 and 29 said they wished to stay in Norway this summer. 

Third of Utøya survivors have received abuse or threats

A third of Utøya survivors have been victims of hate speech or received threats, according to a new survey. 

Three-quarters of respondents said that the reason they received the abuse was linked directly to the Utøya terror attack, the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Studies (NKVTS) found. 

The massacre on Utøya was the second of two terror attacks carried out by Anders Breivik on July 22nd, 2011. Of the 69 people who died in the attack, 32 were under the age of 18. 

Fewer in Oslo willing to ditch cars 

A climate survey carried out by the city of Oslo has shown that fewer people than before are willing to cut back on using their cars. The proportion of those who think that Oslo city centre should be car-free has fallen to 45 percent from 52 percent last year. 

READ ALSO: Could Norway introduce mandatory inbuilt car breathalysers 

When asked whether Oslo City Council had gone too far in removing cars from the city centre, almost half said that they believed that this was the case. 

“A change in the attitude around these measures may be due to more people feeling dependent on cars during the pandemic. There has been a lot of debate about measures that have been introduced or are planned to be introduced,” Heidi Sørensen, Director of the Climate Agency, told the Dagsavisen newspaper

Tighter Coronavirus measures in Trondheim 

Gyms, museums and swimming pools have been closed, and alcohol service in hospitality has been stopped in Trondheim. The new measures come barely a week after restrictions were last tightened. 

“We need to shut down most of Trondheim to get control. It is only days since we last tightened measures, but we are in a situation where we must take even stronger action,” Morten Wolden, the municipal director for Trondheim, told state broadcaster NRK.

Norway reports 292 new Covid-19 cases

On Monday, 292 new coronavirus infections were registered in Norway. This is a drop of 52 compared to the seven-day average of 344. 

In Oslo, 48 cases were recorded, an increase of two on the capital’s seven day average of 46. 

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 1.0. This means that every ten people that are infected, will, on average, only infect another ten people, indicating that the infection level is stable. 

Total number of Covid-19 cases so far. Source: NIPH