Tuesday 20 March 2018

Norway marks month since shootings

Malin Rising in Oslo

Norway's prime minister urged his countrymen to be vigilant for intolerance, as the nation concluded a month-long mourning period with a candlelit memorial service yesterday for the 77 people killed by a right-wing extremist.

Speaking at an arena in Oslo, Jens Stoltenberg said: "We need you. No matter where you live, no matter which god you worship, each and every one of us can take responsibility and can guard freedom."

Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian, has admitted to carrying out the July 22 killings.

The Norwegian prime minister, who received standing ovations from the 6,700 people in the audience during his speech, said: "Together we are an unbreakable chain of care, democracy and safety -- that is our protection against violence."

Addressing the gathering, Norway's King Harald said he felt for each person in the country, but that he was certain Norway would surmount its pain.

As the names of each one of the 77 victims were read out aloud, some broke out in sobs while others sat in silence.

Elsewhere in the city, flags flew at half-mast as people laid flowers outside the cathedral.

The ceremony in the arena, which also hosts the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, was broadcast live on national television and was attended by Mr Stoltenberg, government members, lawmakers and leading politicians and royals from neighbouring countries.

It included performances by some of Norway's top musical names, including 1980s pop group A-ha and soprano Sissel Kyrkjeboe.

On Saturday, about 1,000 survivors and relatives traveled to Utoya, accompanied by police and medical staff, to face the painful memories of the scenes of the shootings. Their visit followed a similar one on Friday by 500 relatives of the deceased.

One of the survivors, Stine Renate Haaheim, said her feelings ranged from emptiness and extreme grief to joy when she returned on Saturday to the island, used as a recreational centre by Norway's ruling Labour Party.

Most of those killed were teenagers and young adults at the party's annual youth camp.

Irish Independent

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