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Utøya to become beacon of free speech and democracy

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Utøya to become beacon of free speech and democracy
The learning centre is scheduled to open on the island this summer. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
14:40 CET+01:00
Work is under way to turn a cafe building on the island of Utøya into a centre where visitors can learn about the very values domestic terrorist Anders Breivik attacked almost five years ago: democracy and free speech.
Thirteen teens were murdered in the small island’s cafe building, which workers are now transforming into a learning centre set to open this summer, NRK reported.
 
“One will come up close to the tragedy and it will without a doubt be a difficult encounter. But at the same time we think it’s important to use history as a positive learning experience for new generations of youth,” the daily leader on the island, Jørgen Watne Frydnes, told NRK. 
 
The cafe was originally slated to be torn down, but after protests from victims’ families the building will remain and be incorporated into the new learning centre. 
 
Breivik killed 69 people on Utøya, most of them teenagers, on July 22, 2011 when he opened fire on a gathering of the Labour Party's youth wing (AUF), spreading terror as he hunted them down for an hour and 15 minutes, trapped on an island just 0.12 square kilometres surrounded by chilly waters.
 
Prior to the rampage on Utøya, the right-wing extremist had placed a bomb near the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight others.
 
Breivik later explained that he wanted to wipe out the nascent leaders of the party, Norway's dominant political force, which he blames for the rise of multiculturalism.
 
Frydnes said the new project would both pay tribute to the victims and defend the values attacked by the mass murderer. 
 
“The new areas will house an exhibition on democracy and freedom of speech and we will also tell the story of those who were killed and those who survived,” he said. 
 
When the centre opens in the summer, it will be open to the general public and available for conferences and visits from school children. 
 
“Hopefully the learning centre will contribute to making sure nothing like this ever happens again,” AUF leader Mani Hussaini told NRK. 
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