'Our Streets Are Filled with Love' Norway Holds Rallies to Remember Attack Victims
Amid their sorrow, Norwegians have made a public display of love and hope in response to the Utøya massacre. Hundreds of thousands of people took part in rallies across the country to remember the victims on Monday evening.
"One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests," wrote Anders Breivik in his first and only Twitter message, quoting the British philosopher John Stuart Mill. But on Monday evening, Norway showed what it means when hundreds of thousands of people believe in something -- and react to an individual's hate with magnanimity and even love.
In its state of deep sadness and shock, Norway has found a powerful response to the terrible acts committed by Breivik, who has confessed to the Oslo bombing and the Utøya massacre. In Oslo alone, more than 200,000 people spontaneously assembled outside the City Hall on Monday evening to remember the dead. Rallies also took place in other cities across the country, including Bergen and Stavanger, in a public display of emotion unlike anything seen in Norway since World War II. Ordinary people, many of them in tears, carried flowers, candles and cards and hugged and comforted each other. "Tonight, our streets are filled with love," said Crown Prince Haakon in a speech.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said he was confident that Norway "will pass this test." In recent days, the trained economist and career politician has matured into something of a father figure for the country. "We will win back our feeling of security," said Stoltenberg, adding that it was a march for democracy, tolerance and unity. "Evil can kill a person but never conquer a nation."
Crown Prince Haakon also spoke with what was unusual openness for a member of the royal family. After July 22, there was no longer any excuse not to fight for a free and open society, he said. It was not possible to undo the terrible murders, he said, "but we can choose what they do to us." Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who lost her step-brother in the Utøya massacre, cried as the assembled crowd held up roses they had brought with them.
Alexander Rybak, the winner of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, was also visibly moved as he played a violin solo for the crowd. Rybak himself is a symbol of the multicultural Norway that Breivik hated; he immigrated to Norway from Belarus with his parents at the age of four.
On Monday afternoon, Breivik told a judge that his acts were intended to be a "strong signal" against immigration, which the ruling center-left Labor Party had promoted. The victims on the island of Utøya were taking part in a summer camp organized by the Labor Party's youth wing.
"We're only human if we can overcome the hate," said Lill Seljord, a housewife who was taking part in the rally, on Monday evening. "We are more than the evil that is within us." Her husband Jonas added: "We must, and will, stand together now."
On Monday, the total death toll for the Oslo bombing and the Utøya massacre was revised down to 76. At least 96 people were also wounded in the attacks.
But amid the feeling of collective unity, questions are being raised about why Breivik's plans were not detected earlier. On Monday, a Norwegian intelligence agency revealed that it had been alerted to Breivik's name in March, but took no action. The 32-year-old had appeared on a list of 50 to 60 people after he had purchased chemicals worth 120 kroner (15 or $22) from a Polish company, said Janne Kristiansen, the head of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST). The company was under observation at the time, but Breivik's order had been considered too insignificant to warrant further investigation. "We had absolutely nothing on Behring Breivik," said Kristiansen, justifying the decision not to look into the purchase.
Earlier, Polish security officials had revealed that Breivik had ordered chemicals for the construction of bombs via the Internet, including from a company based in the Polish city of Wroclaw. The substances were legal, however. The owner of the company has been questioned at the request of the Norwegian police. However, Pawel Bialek, the deputy head of the Polish internal security agency ABW, said there was no evidence that Breivik's Polish contacts were anything but "purely commercial."
In his 1,500-page Internet treatise, Breivik had described the chemicals he wanted to use to build bombs. According to the authorities, it was precisely those substances that he had ordered.
In the document, Breivik wrote that he had ordered 300 grams (10.5 ounces) of sodium nitrate last December for the equivalent of 10. If there were any questions about the order, he would say he planned to use the salt to cure moose meat, he wrote.
According to the text, Breivik also ordered 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of aluminum powder for the equivalent of around 2000. If needed, his cover story for the powder would be that he wanted to use it for paint to protect the hull of his boat.