The adoptive parents of 17-year-old Johanne Zhanghia Ihle-Hansen, who police believe was murdered by her right-wing extremist step-brother who’s also charged with terrorism, have expressed appreciation for the support and condolences they’ve received, also from Islamic leaders who were targets of their son’s attack on a local mosque. The victim’s high school in Sandvika opened early this week, to lay out a condolence protocol and offer a place to gather for shocked students who knew the victim.
“Johanne was a beloved daughter, wise, reflective, curious about life and society,” wrote her mother in a statement issued by her publicly appointed lawyer. “She was a girl with lots of plans for the future. She was caring, loveable and fond of her home. The emptiness and sorrow over her loss is almost impossible to bear.”
‘Pain and chaos’
She also expressed gratitude for the support and condolences received from friends, family, neighbours, her daughter’s school and fellow students. Vibeke Hein Bæra, another lawyer for the family and the father of the now-charged assailant 21-year-old Philip Manshaus, also issued a statement of appreciation at a time of what Bæra called “pain and chaos.” Bæra said the family thought it was especially nice that the Islamic community sent condolences on the loss of their daughter, even though their son had launched an attack on them.
“Our family wants to thank the Islamic milieu for the thoughtfulness it has shown,” the family stated. “The family distances itself strongly from the act carried out by one of our family members, and which has hit us so hard.
“We are relieved by the limited extent (of injury) to those who were in the mosque (at the time of the shooting late Saturday afternoon). Building bridges and mutual respect feels like the only thing right for us.”
Fellow students of Ihle-Hansen expressed shock over her murder by her own step-brother. “This is unreal,” Herman Sætre, deputy leader of the student council at Sandvika Vidergående Skole told state broadcaster NRK. “We’re all in shock that something like this can happen.”
NRK reported that Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen was born in Jiangxi, China on June 18, 2002. She was adopted from China when she was two years old and later described as a “good student, kind and inclusive” by the rector of the high school. Ihle-Hansen has been involved in both gymnastics and horse-back riding, in addition to her studies.
Police found her body in the family’s home at Eiksmarka in Bærum after her step-brother had launched an attack on the Al-Noor Islamic Center at Skui, also in Bærum. Police have arrested him and charged him with her murder, attempted murder at the mosque, and with carrying out a terrorist attack.
Manshaus, who was ordered held in isolation on Monday, has since refused to answer police questions but is known to have taken on ultra-right wing attitudes and remarked that “only white Norwegians should live in Norway.” He also warned of a coming “race war” and so alarmed fellow students at his own high school that they both confronted him and expressed concern about him to school officials.
Police were also tipped about Manshaus’ extremist ideology last year and launched what they called a “thorough” investigation of him but found no reason to contact him directly. They’ve been criticized and have expressed regrets that they failed to ward off his attacks.