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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Security high during Oslo Pride

Both armed and plain-clothes police were out in force during this year’s Oslo Pride parade and other celebrations that culminated during the weekend. They aimed to be discreet and there were few complaints about the extra security, as an estimated 70,000 people marched and partied their way through the streets of the Norwegian capital.

Armed police were perched on rooftops (as seen here, upper left) and mingled with the crowds during this year’s Pride celebrations. A major theme was “Plass til alle,” stressing that there should be room for everyone in an open society. PHOTO: Robby MacBeath

Oslo Pride organizers were grateful for the extra security precautions, which even included a no-fly zone over downtown Oslo between 6am and 6pm on Saturday. Drones were also prohibited without special permission, part of heightened security imposed since a radical Islamist opened fire on celebrants during Oslo Pride Week in 2022, killing two.

There were no serious incidents during this year’s nine-day-long event meant to highlight love and diversity, and then left organizers relieved and proud. “It’s so important that we together send a powerful and clear signal about the kind of society we want to have,” Oslo Pride leader Dan Bjørke told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) late Saturday afternoon. “We did that today. Many thanks to everyone who marched, and to everyone who cheered us on.”

There was also lots of support from the sidelines for those out marching. PHOTO: Robby MacBeath

Pride celebrations now take place all over the country, but Oslo’s is by far the largest. Nearly 150 organizations took part along with all the individuals out marching, including Den norske kirke (The Norwegian Church), Amnesty, the Norwegian military and the police themselves.

Bjørke said he was proud that so many “stand together behind the message that Pride is all about, that we want to live in a society where everyone can live a safe and good life.”

The goals are equality and acceptance, regardless of race, religion or sexual preferences. Among top politicians marching this year was the government minister in charge of culture and equality, Lubna Jaffery of the Labour Party. She grabbed attention for baring her breasts with a huge smile during a festive Pride event late last week, and told NRK she was glad so many turned out to support freedom and diversity.

Saturday’s huge Pride Parade also highlighted how Oslo has developed into a culturally and ethnically diverse city just over the past few decades. PHOTO: Robby MacBeath

Police confirmed that the vast majority of participants and spectators “were in a good mood” and that events progressed without major problems. “A few were turned away because of drunkennes or inappropriate behaviour,” reported police operations leader Øyvind Schalla-Aasen, adding that only one person was arrested during the course of the day.

Police had earlier reported that they hadn’t picked up any concrete threats against the Pride parade in Oslo, and that they’d dealt with fewer threats and hateful expressions than last year. “We like to say we take care of public security with a smile,” Schalla-Aasen told ABC Nyheter. “We try to create a secure situation by contributing with good humour.”

There were some anti-Pride incidents before the big parade, including stolen or vandalized Pride flags, but no major confrontations. Three out of four mayors in Norway, meanwhile, claimed in a recent survey conducted by newspaper Kommunal Rapport that they raise the Pride flag with pride themselves.

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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