Although the killer was given the maximum sentence Norway has still not confronted his political motives, survivor Astrid Eide Hoem who is now the leader of youth wing of Labour party says.

Utoya massacre survivor Elin L'Estrange poses in a park in Jessheim on June 7, 2021.
Utoya massacre survivor Elin L'Estrange poses in a park in Jessheim on June 7, 2021. (AFP)

Church bells rang out across Norway Thursday as the prime minister called on the country to stand up against the hatred that drove right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik to go on a killing spree a decade ago that left 77 people dead. 

Speaking to survivors and relatives of the victims on the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, Prime Minister Erna Solberg urged empathy and tolerance. 

"We must not let hate stand unopposed," Solberg said in a speech at a memorial ceremony near the government headquarters in Oslo, the site of the first attack.

Ten years ago, Anders Behring Breivik, disguised as a police officer, tracked and gunned down 69 people, mostly teenagers, at a summer camp run by the youth league (AUF) of Norway's Labour Party on the island. 

His more than one hour-long killing spree began shortly after he had detonated a fertiliser bomb outside a government building in Oslo, killing eight people.

Norwegian flags and flowers are in Sundvollen, close to Utoya island, where gunman Anders Behring Breivik killed at least 68 people, near Oslo, Norway, Thursday July 28, 2011.
Norwegian flags and flowers are in Sundvollen, close to Utoya island, where gunman Anders Behring Breivik killed at least 68 people, near Oslo, Norway, Thursday July 28, 2011. (AP)

'Still present'

In the face of attacks, the then-Labour Party prime minister and current NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg promised to respond with "more democracy" and "more humanity".

"Ten years ago, we met hatred with love," Stoltenberg said in a speech during a church memorial service on Thursday.

"But the hatred is still present," he said. And recent attacks in the country confirms the former prime minister’s assertion. 

Just this week vandals scrawled "Breivik was right" on a memorial for Benjamin Hermansen, who was killed by neo-Nazis in 2001 in what was billed as Norway's "first racist crime".

In 2019, Philip Manshaus opened fire on a mosque on the outskirts of Oslo and was overpowered by worshippers preventing any serious injuries. However, just before the attack, Manshaus had shot and killed his Asian-born stepsister in a race-motivated killing.

Ten years on, many of the survivors of Utoya feel that Norway still has not truly faced up to the ideology that drove the attacker Breivik.

"That there are people who still share Breivik's ideas, that we have had another terrorist attack in Norway by someone deeply inspired by Breivik shows that we have failed to deal with the political aspect of the attack," said Elin L'Estrange, who escaped the shootings on the island by swimming away.

"We've not managed to have a debate about how young white men, growing up like one of us in Norway, going to the same schools and living in the same neighbourhoods, can develop such extreme views that they feel they can kill for them," survivor Astrid Eide Hoem said.  

Utoya massacre survivor Astrid Eide Hoem poses on Utoya on June 7, 2021 where far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 69 of his 77 victims in 2011.
Utoya massacre survivor Astrid Eide Hoem poses on Utoya on June 7, 2021 where far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 69 of his 77 victims in 2011. (AFP)

Astrid Eide Hoem was only 16 when she found herself trapped on the island along with hundreds of others, fearing for her life.

Hiding by a cliffside near the water, she sent what she thought would be a last text to her mother but she managed to escape. 

Now the leader of the youth wing of the Labour Party, Eide Hoem says she regrets that, although the killer was given the maximum sentence, 21 years in prison which can be extended indefinitely, Norway has still not confronted his political motives.

"We have discussed the preparedness of the rescue services, how much police we should have in the streets, how many helicopters should be available. We've discussed memorials. We've discussed Breivik's mental health. But we haven't discussed the political ideology behind it," she added.

"The most important emergency preparedness we have is before the police barrier. It is that we stop this type of radicalisation," she argued.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies