Serious stuff happens in Norway, too

That time, a deadly attack that cost the lives of five people…

Last week, I was about to write about the fact that the dairy company Tine decided to change its bamboo spoons back to longer plastic ones since its customers protested a lot on Norway, finding their eating a yoghurt moment less pleasant with smaller spoons. It seemed like the proper kind of content for a blog entitled « Meanwhile in Norway ».

But then, an attack happened in Kongsberg, a town in the South East of Norway, on Wednesday evening.

From Google Maps

Five people were killed and three injured by a 37 year-old Danish citizen recently converted to Islam but is who most probably mentally ill, according to the police. We will know more in the weeks to come, as Espen Andersen Bråthen is staying in a closed mental health facility for four weeks in order to be examined and interrogated.

The man chose to attack people with a bow and arrow, starting in a local supermarket called Coop Extra (the same kind I go to for my own grocery shopping, it’s that of a regular thing here in Norway) and then fleeing from there after the police tried to arrest him, shooting people randomly in the streets before the police ended up catching up with him.

At first the police considered a terrorist attack due to the fact that he made threat videos back in 2017, following which he was under surveillance for a while due to the notice made by a friend of the accused. In 2020, he ended up with a restraining order after threatening his own family, more notably against his father and even leaving a gun on his parents’ couch. He was clearly unstable but not deemed so much of a threat that he would have been under strict surveillance this year.

This is very tragic and my thoughts go to the families and friends of the victims.

Now, Norway is not a major victim of terror acts, except for the most tragic counter-example that the attacks of July 2011 represent. Two incidents can be reported in the past two years: this year, the Oslo District Court sentenced a Syrian teenager to five years in prison for planning an act of terror and for supporting ISIS, and back in 2019 a Norwegian man murdered his stepsister before opening fire at the Al Noor Islamic Center near Oslo.

In Norway, acts of terror are not necessarily likely to be due to radical Islamists, so the media approaches such attacks with a lot of carefulness. According to the Norwegian Police Security Service in 2020, « it is just as probable that a new terrorist attack will be carried out by right-wing extremists as by Islamic extremists ».

This happens while the trial of the attacks of November 2015 in France is ongoing, so it was a bit hard for me to feel very connected to what just happened in Norway. Especially that it seems so unlikely in such a peaceful country, not very involved with the matters of the world. I just hope this was just a glitch in the system, and not a thing to be expected on more regular basis.

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