Bells tolled for terror victims

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UPDATED: Norway was in the midst of a long and full day of speeches, ceremonies and bells tolling nationwide on Thursday, as the country marked the 10th anniversary of the July 22 attacks in 2011. It began with traditional memorials at and near the sites of the attacks, and was to end with a nationally televised ceremony from the Oslo Spektrum arena where King Harald spoke 10 years ago and was ready to do so again.

Norway’s government complex was heavily damaged by a bomb on July 22, 2011 and is now finally being redeveloped. Space has been cleared, however, for the first of many ceremonies to be held on Thursday, 10 years after. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Morten Møst

The July 22 attacks by a home-grown right-wing extremist who killed 77 people have been marked every year since, but this year the debate over what motivated them has become tougher and survivors have been speaking out as never before. Many will be following this year’s speeches closely, listening for signs that their concerns have been heard, and that the political ideology behind the attacks will be confronted.

Meanwhile, members of the royal family, the government, Parliament, the Labour Party that was attacked and survivors of the attacks would gather once again Thursday morning at the government complex in downtown Oslo that was bombed. The area is finally being redeveloped but a small area has been cleared near the temporary national memorial that features the names of victims. They’ll also be read aloud once again, and wreaths will be laid.

RELATED STORY: What happened in Oslo 10 years ago

Then the group will move on to the Oslo Cathedral, which became a gathering point for mourners after the attacks. Another ceremony will be held at which former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, now secretary general of NATO, will speak with King Harald and Queen Sonja present. News bureau NTB reports that following the ceremony in the cathedral, church bells will ring at noon all over the country.

From Oslo to Utøya and back
From there both government officials and survivors will travel to the island of Utøya, where 69 people were gunned down during the second phase of the terrorist’s attack. Crown Prince Haakon will be among those speaking on Utøya, and there will be more speeches from survivors and victims’ families than normal. Many have a lot to unload as the grieving continues.

The chimes atop Oslo’s City Hall will ring 77 times Thursday evening, once for every victim of the terrorist attacks. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen and the head of Oslo’s city government, Raymond Johansen of the Labour Party, have invited survivors to a reception in the Oslo City Hall late in the day, after which, at 7pm, the City Hall’s chimes will ring 77 times, once for every terror victim, and all bus, tram and metro traffic in Oslo will come to a halt for the duration. Various other ceremonies will also be held in towns and cities around the country that all lost residents in the attacks.

RELATED STORY: Police re-arm for July 22 memorials

The day’s events will conclude with the national memorial ceremony at Oslo Spektrum, at which King Harald will address the nation. His condolence speech in 2011 has been well-remembered, when he told survivors and victims’ families that “As a father, grandfather and spouse I can only imagine your pain. As the nation’s king, I feel with each and every one of you.”

Prime Minister Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party and Jonas Gahr Støre, leader of the Labour Party, will also speak at the ceremony that will include musical interludes from well-known Norwegian musicians.

Several events were held on Wednesday as well. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who represents Sweden’s equivalent of the Labour Party, spent the day in Oslo and on Utøya to pay his repects on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. He was accompanied by Støre and took part in a panel discussion about racism, democracy and solidarity, also with Solberg.

“There was just one person responsible for this attack, and he’s convicted and sitting in jail,” Støre said. “But we have seen that attitudes can lead to this sort of terror. Therefore we must speak out about this.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund