Norway Prime Minister Joins Mourners Marking Breivik AttacksSaleha Mohsin
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg was among those attending memorial services as the nation marks the third anniversary of its bloodiest peace-time massacre on record.
Mourners gathered at Oslo Cathedral today to recall the attacks carried out by Anders Behring Breivik in 2011. The 35-year-old detonated a bomb outside former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office, killing eight people, before sailing to the island of Utoeya to gun down 69 members of the Labor Party’s youth faction.
“Being better prepared is essential to limit our vulnerability,” Solberg said in a speech outside the office that was bombed. “We never thought something like this could happen but being aware of our vulnerability means Norway is stronger now. The memory of July 22 commits us all to fight for openness, tolerance and solidarity.”
The question of how to approach Breivik left Norwegians torn as they weighed the need for punishment against the ideals of a welfare model in which rehabilitation is the ultimate goal. About 1,500 people are expected to gather in Oslo and on Utoeya today to mark the anniversary of the massacre, according to police and government estimates.
Breivik, who is serving a 21-year prison sentence, is now pursuing a degree in political science from his cell. His term can be extended if a court decides he still poses a threat to society. In a 1,500-page manifesto Breivik posted online before the killings he said they were part of his crusade against the “cultural Marxism” and “Islamization” of Europe.
Norwegians and other Scandinavians “are generally unprepared to deal with such a homicidal type,” said Nina Witoszek, an Oslo University professor who has written books on Norwegian identity, including “The Origins of the Regime of Goodness -- Remapping the Cultural History of Norway.”
Ila Prison, where Breivik is serving his sentence, offers inmates individual and group counseling sessions. While he is in isolation for 23 hours a day, he has access to computer games, books, a television and a treadmill.
“There is a drive and impulse to understand him and his problems,” Witoszek said. “Gallantry and civility, which is normally reserved for victims, was also applied to Breivik, which many found scandalous.”
Criminals in what Norway calls preventative detention cost 1.2 million kroner ($193,000) a year, while Breivik’s expenses are an additional 6.7 million kroner because of special security measures needed to keep him in isolation.
“We have managed to preserve a society where our core values are trust and transparency, without fear,” Stoltenberg said in a TV2 interview. The former premier was at his Oslo home the day of the attack.