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Bells toll in Norway to mark 10 years since neo-Nazi Breivik killed 77

GlobalJul 22, 2021 21:26
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Smoke billows from a building as people stand looking at the site of a powerful explosion that rocked central Oslo July 22, 2011. A huge explosion damaged government buildings in central Oslo on Friday including Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg 2/2

By Nora Buli and Gwladys Fouche

OSLO (Reuters) -Church bells rang out across Norway on Thursday to mark 10 years since Anders Behring Breivik, a far right extremist, killed 77 people, most of them teenagers at a youth camp.

In a solemn speech that capped a day of remembrance, King Harald said Norway must teach future generations about the events of July 22, 2011.

Breivik, a white supremacist who wanted to bring about a fascist revolution through violent means, detonated a car bomb outside the prime minister's office in Oslo, killing eight, before driving to Utoeya island and shooting 69 people at a Labour Party youth camp.

"Certain dates are written into our country's story as defining days. Days, which in different ways, have contributed to making us who we are today," the king said at a televised memorial concert.

The nation owed it to all those killed, to their relatives and to itself to pass on the lessons of July 22 to future generations, he added.

"At the same time, we must acknowledge that we as a society have not done nearly enough to see, to help, to carry the burden together - and to counteract the dark forces."

Events started outside what was once the prime minister's office - now still an empty shell. People passing by beyond the secured perimeter stopped to listen and some hugged as the names of the victims were read out.

"It hurts to think back to that dark day in July ten years ago. Today, we mourn together. Today, we remember the 77 that never came home," Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at that event.

Breivik, 42, is serving a 21-year sentence, which can be prolonged indefinitely if he is deemed a continued threat to society.

Debate over the attacks has shifted over the years. Survivors, many of whom were teenagers at the time, are now determined to confront the far-right ideology which was a catalyst for the attack.

This is a departure from Norway's response at the time, which emphasised unity and consensus.

"THE HATE IS STILL THERE"

"Ten years later, we need to speak the truth. We have not stopped the hate. Right-wing extremism is still alive," said Astrid Hoem, leader of the Labour Party youth organisation AUF, and a survivor of the Utoeya attack, at the memorial event.

"The terrorist was one of us. But he does not define who we are - we do," Hoem said.

After ten years, it was time to clearly reject racism and hate once and for all, Hoem said. "Because if we do this now, we might be able to keep our promise of 'Never again July 22'."

At a service in the Oslo Cathedral, Jens Stoltenberg - who was the Labour Party prime minister at the time of the murders and is now NATO Secretary-General - pointed to recent incidents of far right violence, including continued death threats against the attacks' survivors.

A memorial to 2001 teenage hate crime victim Benjamin Hermansen was also vandalised earlier this week with the slogan "Breivik was right".

"Ten years ago we met hate with love. But the hate is still there," Stoltenberg said. "Again and again we are reminded that democracy has not been won once and for all. We need to fight for it day after day."

The church bells rang out for five minutes after the service, starting at 1210 CET (1010 GMT).

Ten years ago, people brought red roses - a symbol of the Labour Party - and other flowers to the cathedral. Passers-by repeated that tribute on Thursday.

​ Memorial services took place across Norway, underlining the fact that the victims had come from all parts of the country.

Boats floated along the fjord towards Utoeya island, a reminder of the vessels that came out to rescue survivors a decade ago.

A group of survivors have set up a Twitter account @aldriglemme (Never forget) posting minute-for-minute events as they unfolded 10 years ago, including tweets from that day.

Bells toll in Norway to mark 10 years since neo-Nazi Breivik killed 77
 

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