Today I will be adopting a more serious tone as I write about the events of the 22nd of July 2011, a day that cost Norway 77 people, among them many young and hopeful for the future. They were taken by the barbaric acts of the white terrorist Anders Breivik, who placed a bomb inside a governmental building in central Oslo before heading to Utøya island not far from the capital and where the Labour Party youth committee was holding a summer camp. There, he passed as a police officer in order to shoot and hunt teenagers and young adults. That day with him being detained by the police, and many families scarred for life.
In 2012, Breivik was convicted to the maximum sentence of 21 years in jail, which can be extended as long as judged necessary, for mass murder, causing an explosion and domestic terrorism. Legally known since 2017 as Fjotolf Hansen, this man who cause so much suffering is a right-wing extremist against immigration. His attack on the government and the Labour Party were meant to publicize his views, explained in a « manifesto » targeting Muslims and feminists as the cause of the decline of Europe that he sent right before his attacks.
The United States has 9/11, France has November 2015, and Norway has July 22nd. To give you an idea, the Viking told me that almost everyone he knows knew someone who was at Utøya. Luckily, the one he knew there survived. Mental scars are still here for the survivors, some of them coming out publicly to talk about what happened to them during the ten years that followed, the others hoping to continue a quiet life far from direct trauma.
The particularity is that the attacks in Norway were caused by white extremism, and it really made Norway dig into its own relationship with racism and immigration. I can only quote the website Norway Today, that decided to commemorate the victims by writing about what the Norwegian society accomplished since then: « Multicultural immigration is still occurring and has, in my opinion, greatly enriched the cultural life of the nation. What is most striking is that a center-right government has considered an “action plan” against Islamophobia and intolerance. In this country, even a conservative government is concerned about the welfare of all its citizens, regardless of ethnic, religious, or cultural background. » But it also acknowledges that Norway is dealing with, like many other European countries, with a strong rise of extreme rights politics and Islamophobia.
In this day of commemoration, I have thoughts of love and peace for people who suffered from the tragedy, but also to everyone working constantly to make this country better for all, local and imported.