On Thursday, July 22, Norway will mark the 10th anniversary of the worst terror attack in the country”s recent history.
On 22 July 2011, right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed eight people and injured more than 200 others in a car bomb attack on the government quarter of Oslo.
Wearing a homemade police uniform, he then took a ferry to the island of Utøya, where members of the Labour Party’s youth wing (AUF) were on an annual summer camp.
Breivik opened fire on the mostly teenaged participants, killing 69 people. The massacre lasted for around an hour and a half before special forces arrived.
Ahead of the anniversary on Wednesday, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven paid a visit to the island to pay respect to the victims and meet with survivors.
He was accompanied by Astrid Hoem, leader of the AUF and a survivor of the shooting, and Jonas Gahr Store, leader of the Norwegian Labour Party.
They each laid flowers at the site of the planned memorial to Utøya victims, which is not yet complete. Hoem also showed Lofven the learning center built in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Warnings against extremism ahead of Utoya anniversary
Speaking at a news conference after the tour, Hoem said it was “difficult and strange” to recall the events of 10 years ago.
“At that time,” she said, “we lost our friends when they were 14, 15, 18 years old. But today we also lost the opportunity to know them as they would have been 24, 26, 28 years old.”
She added: “I think in the days after July 22, it was so important that we stood together, that we talked about love winning over hate and that we talked about it as an attack on all of Norway.
“But… it was also a political attack on AUF and the Labour Party. And we see that in the last years, both here in Norway and in the rest of Europe, right-wing extremism is on the rise.”
Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, told a panel discussion on Wednesday that she believed understanding July 22 was a “mandatory” part of learning about racism and discrimination.
“If we manage also to get the teachers to have self-confidence enough to teach about an issue that’s so close to our society, and so close in time,” she said, “I think we can have a lasting vaccine against extremism – and I hope that that will have that effect.”
Memorial events planned across Norway
A number of local and national events are due to take place across the country on Thursday to mark 10 years since the atrocity.
Politicians, members of the Norwegian royal family and victims’ family members will attend a memorial ceremony at the government office complex in Oslo, during which the names of the 69 victims will be read out.
There will also be a memorial service at Oslo Cathedral and a flower-laying ceremony at the Lysningen memorial site.
At 7pm local time, the bells at Oslo City Hall will toll 77 times, after which Til ungdommen (‘To the Youth’) will be played on the carillon.