Utöya in Memoriam

Friday 22nd July 2011 will forever be etched into our memory as the day when small, peaceful Norway was struck by large-scale terrorism for the first time in history.

Some weeks of heavy rain has washed away most of the dust of the attack on the Government Headquarters in the centre of the capital Oslo killing eight and wounding more than 20 persons, as well as the blood from the massacre of 69 teenagers and children at Utöya, a small island about an hour’s drive from the capital. 

The youngsters attended a camp organized by the youth division of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party.  For the many thousands of Norwegians who are directly affected by this tragedy, the process of coping with their grief has only just begun.

The whole world takes part in their deep sorrow, especially the other Nordic countries, where you can feel a deeper empathy and sense of togetherness than before.

How could this happen?  It is unbelievable that anybody can be evil enough to brutally kill 69 young people. The first reaction was that the killer was a foreigner, but when it became clear that the massacre was planned and carried out by Anders Breivik, a 32 year old Norwegian with no prior criminal history , it became even more difficult to comprehend.

In Norway, a process parallel to mourning is already under way. People try to analyse the reasons behind this terrible deed, blaming right-wing populism and extremism; Breivik was an active member of the Norwegian right-wing populist progress party. In his blogs he expressed racist and anti-islamic views.

Hatred-messages in social media are, according to many analysts, a nurturing factor to aggressive behaviour. On the personal level, Breivik is said to have always been a loner and a narcissist, and now after the attacks no one can deny that he is a psychopath. He has said that he wanted to damage the Norwegian society and create a new order, and that’s why he attacked the summer camp for young Labour party members and bombed the headquarters of the Norwegian Government.

Anders Breivik is trying to fight the course of history, but to no avail. Multicultural Norway seems to be here to stay. The testimonials of the survivors, where Norwegian and immigrant children were fighting for their lives, side by side, might very well contribute to the creation of a Norway where the views of extremists such as Breivik will become marginalized in time. Breivik wanted to instigate war. His ideas will be crushed by humanity and solidarity and by the sacrifice of the many murdered on a rainy day at Utöya and in Oslo.

On August 20th, a clearly tearful HM King Harald addressed a mourning nation in remembrance of the victims of July 22nd.

Let me quote some passages of his speech:
“I can only imagine some of your pain as a father, grandfather and spouse. As the country’s king I feel with each one of you.”
“I wish now to repeat what I said the day after the tragedy:
I hold on to the belief that freedom is stronger than fear.
I hold on to the belief in an open Norwegian democracy and society.
And I hold on to the belief in our ability to live freely and safely in our own country”

(Feature: Nordic News, columnist, Seaside Gazette).

Marianne Lindahl

Born in Helsinki, Finland, many decades ago and a resident in Almuñécar since 2001. I have a M.Sc in Economics and Business Administration and an Authorized Translator´s exam. Prior to this I studied art in Helsinki and Paris. After a career in business I started painting again, (oil, impressionist with a touch of naivism)and have participated in many exhibitions in Spain and Finland. I am active in Asociacion Hispano-Nordica in Almuñécar, a meeting point for people from Sweden, Norway and Finland. I am married, with 3 children and 9 grandchildren. Hobbies: Cats, golf, trecking, jazz. 

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