One Year After Utoya, Norway Calls For Tolerance

Norway commemorated the 77 people killed and 242 injured a year ago today when a government building in Oslo was bombed and a shooter attacked a youth camp on the island of Ut°ya. The killings, the worst violence in Norway since World War II, shocked the peaceful nation, which has long emphasized openness, tolerance and democracy. More than half of the victims were teenagers, with the youngest having only turned 14 five days before being killed

At a wreath-laying ceremony at the bombing site, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that the killer, 33-year-old far-right fanatic Anders Behring Breivik, had failed in his stated goal of destroying Norway’s commitment to being a society of tolerance and open to multiculturalism:

“The bomb and the gun shots were meant to change Norway. The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won.”

Stoltenberg then traveled to Ut°ya, where he gave a speech to young members of the Labour Party and also laid a wreath. Hundreds of relatives of those killed and injured had attended a private service on the island in the morning. A national memorial concert with mostly Norwegian musicians was held on Sunday evening.

At a church service attended by the royal family and government families in Oslo’s cathedral, vicar Elisabeth Thorsen called on Norwegians also to remember victims of violence in other parts of the world including Syria and the US, an apparent reference to the killing of twelve people in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, on Friday, says the New York Times.

Breivik has admitted to the killings and bombings and been on trial for three months. He has justified his acts on the grounds that those whom he killed were “traitors for embracing immigration and making Norway a multicultural society” and that he sought to prevent Muslims from taking over Norwegian society. Defense lawyers have argued that Breivik is sane, while prosecutors say that he is mentally ill. A ruling will be delivered on August 24 about whether Breivik is sane and will receive a lengthy prison sentence or whether he is not and must be sent to a secure psychiatric ward.

Norway’s commitment to tolerance in the face of xenophobia has recently been tested by the public response to an influx of Gypsies from Eastern Europe:

After neighbors complained of unsanitary conditions, noise and illegal construction, anti-immigration politicians called for the Gypsies, also known as Roma, to be rounded up and bussed out of Norway. Online, the debate has been raw, sometimes outright racist.

“Some of what we have seen is frightening,” Stoltenberg told Norwegian broadcaster TV2 this week. “Nobody shall be judged because they belong to a certain ethnic group.”

Anti-Gypsy sentiment is no worse in Norway than elsewhere, with many of the Roma saying that they are treated better in Norway than in Romania, Bulgaria and their other home countries, says the New York Times. While not a member of the European Union, Norway has close ties to countries in the 27-member bloc and allows citizens of EU nations to enter its borders freely and remain for three months without registering with authorities. Some have noted an increase in the numbers of Roma recently entering Norway, which, thanks to its offshore oil and gas resources, has not been much affected by the euro zone’s economic crisis.

In response to the Norwegian government’s determination to promote tolerance and openness to oppose Breivik’s views, Vegard Groeslie Wennesland, a Labour Party activist who survived the attack, told the BBC that “people thought it a bit naive to cling to these values of openness in a situation like that.” But he then emphasized that he thinks “it’s more naive to think that brutal police, or more restrictive policies will bring you a safer society.”


Related Care2 Coverage

Breivik Smiles As Prosecutors State Insanity Verdict

Facing Terror With Music: Norwegians Sing Song Breivik Hated (Video)

Breivik Turns His Trial Into a Platform For His Right-Wing Extremism


Photo taken July 22, 2012 in Oslo by Fornyingsdepartementet


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

The massmurderer is not mentally disturbed. He wasn't July 11, 2011, and he wasn't during the trial and he wasn't at sentencing. And it's untrue that the prosecution wanted him declared insane. It was a commission set up by the court that did a first hand evaluation. The court then ordered a second opinion and they concluded he was sane. Either way, the massmurderer (I refuse to type his name, let it be forgotten) will spend the rest of his life behind bars, since he was sentenced to "förvaring", meaning that after serving 21 years, he will be kept inside for another five years. After those five years, there will be another five. And so on. Much better than the US system, that release murderers after just a few years (6-10). I believe Norway has acted professionally and humane after the Utöya tragedy. Instead of falling into the trap of closing the borders, promote hate and approve of bad treatment of immigrants, the country have instead embraced diversity and will grow stronger because of it. A lesson to be learned by many nations!

Jessica L.
Janne O4 years ago

Very very true, Ernest! As you might know, we have had a lot of gypsy trouble the last years, ever since the borders were opened to Romania and Bulgaria. As a result robberies peaked with 700% the first summer, and yes, all the perpetrators caught were Romanian (most if not all gypsies). It's not PC to admit of course, but I don't care.
It's not PC to call a spade a spade when the vast majority of assault rapes are committed by African Muslims either. They're so quick to make excuses for them. It really ticks me off!! According to their own laws, rape can be punished with death, yet their culture must be understood and taken into consideration when they commit crime. Racism is created by the immigrants/ asylum seekers themselves and by the treatment they get from the government.
I hate being stuck in this country!

Ernest R.
Ernest R4 years ago

It is quite true that Breivik did not win. His angry and senseless reaction reaction to Muslim immigration only made people increase it. They showed him all right, but they didn't win either. Now they welcome more Roma, unproductive people totally without respect for any authority other than their own chief, who collects the fruits of their thefts and scams.And they welcome more Muslims. despite the increase of rape they commit, and despite their stated intent to force Sharia law as soon as their increasing numbers can force it. So long Norway.

Lynda Harrison
Lynda Harrison4 years ago

How easy it seems when individuals commit such atrocities to cling to the thought they are mentally ill rather than just evil!

Lynda Harrison
Lynda Harrison4 years ago

How easy it seems when individuals commit such atrocities to cling to the thought they are mentally ill rather than just evil!

Sharon R.
Sharon R4 years ago

Bravo to Norway for living its beliefs. May they not lose heart when tested, like with the Roma situation, but continue to see dignity in their fellow human beings.

devon leonard
Devon Leonard4 years ago

I am very impressed with Norway's Prime Ministers speech calling for a continuation of the traditional values of tolerance in the aftermath of the horrific killings by a mentally disturbed man. I am glad to hear that the gypsy population is treated kindly in Norway. I would like to hear more about the Roma people and how they are doing in today's world.....

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L4 years ago

Well I don't think it's a conpiracy on Care2 part, but I do think they have computer problems they are either ignoring or can't fix. It is true some post, post and some don't or they post a good time later. I wrote a post here about half hour ago...wie'll see.

Troy G.
Troy Grant4 years ago

The Liberal Gun Club

Troy G.
Troy Grant4 years ago

Who benefits from unarmed victims?