Norway PM Solberg says country must oppose hate in July 22nd memorial speech

Norway's prime minister on Thursday called for the country to stand up against the hatred that killed 77 people on July 22, 2011, ten years after the attacks by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

Norway PM Solberg says country must oppose hate in July 22nd memorial speech
The memorial to the victims of the Utøya shooting. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

“We must not let hate stand unopposed,” Erna Solberg said in a speech at a memorial ceremony near the government headquarters in Oslo.

This was the place where Breivik set off a bomb that killed eight people before a mass shooting not long after at a summer camp for left-wing youths on the island of Utøya, killing another 69 — most of them teenagers.

Speaking to survivors and relatives of the victims, Solberg stressed that much had been done in the last 10 years to improve security and combat radicalisation and extremism.

“The most important preparedness, we have to build within each of us,” she said, adding it would serve as “a fortified bulwark against intolerance and hate speech, for empathy and tolerance.”

The Scandinavian nation had been mostly spared from extremist violence until the attacks on July 22, 2011.

READ ALSO: Norway marks 10 years since July 22nd terror attacks

After the morning memorial ceremony at the government headquarters, church masses and another ceremony on Utøya in the afternoon will mark the anniversary. At noon, church bells nationwide will ring.

Shortly after the attacks, the then-Labour Party prime minister and current NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg promised to respond with “more democracy” and “more humanity”. 

But 10 years on, many of the survivors of Utoya feel that Norway still has not truly faced up to the ideology that drove Breivik.

“The deadly racism and right-wing extremism are still alive and well in our midst,” Astrid Eide Hoem, a survivor who has since become head of the Labour Party’s youth league (AUF), which organised the camp, said in a speech during Thursday morning’s ceremony.

“They live on the internet, they live around the dinner table, they live in many people that many (other) people listen to,” she continued.

“It is now, once and for all, that we must say that we do not accept racism, that we do not accept hatred.”

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Kongsberg attacker killed victims with ‘sharp object’

Norwegian police said Monday that the five victims of last week's attack were killed by a "sharp object" used by the suspect, not a bow and arrows.

The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident.
The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident. Photo by Søren Storm Hansen on Flickr.

“At some point he discarded or lost his bow and arrows,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters.

He said that during the attack on Wednesday the suspect killed “five people with a sharp object both in private addresses and in public spaces”.

Police, who had previously said that the suspect Espen Andersen Brathen was armed with a bow and arrows and two other weapons, did not specify the nature of the sharp weapons, adding that they were still interviewing witnesses.

“Everything points to the victims being selected at random,” Omholt said.

According to the police, more than 10 people were also shot at with arrows at the start of the attack, but none were killed with this weapon.

READ MORE: Norway police query Kongsberg attacker’s Muslim faith

During police questioning, Brathen has confessed to the killings and to wounding three others.

The 37-year-old Danish citizen has announced publicly that he is a convert to Islam and initially police reported that there had been fears of radicalisation.

He is however being kept in a medical facility pending a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Brathen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

“As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” Omholt added.

On Saturday, police announced the identities of the five victims, four women and one man: Andrea Meyer, 52, Hanne Merethe Englund, 56, Liv Berit Borge, 75, Gunnar Erling Sauve, 75 and Gun Marith Madsen, 78.