By FOX News Radio’s Emily Wither
“We want to show the world that love really can conquer all,” a young man in Oslo told me.
This is not quite the reaction you’d expect from a country that has just gone through a twin terror attack that claimed the lives of over 70 people, many young teenagers, carried out by one of their fellow countrymen.
However, during my time in Oslo this was the overwhelming mood of the nation that quickly grouped together in quiet solidarity.
Anders Behring Breivik’s acts of terror on July 22nd had the opposite effect that he had hoped for. Driven by hatred for his country’s Labor policies he thought he was the people’s “savior”.
He wanted to rescue his country and Europe from a supposed Muslim take-over – a group that actually makes up a very tiny percentage of Norway’s population.
Norway, not used to political violence and home of the Nobel Peace Prize, has a reputation as a country of tolerance.
The country’s Prime Minister, while acknowledging things had forever changed, also called on Norwegians to embrace the openness Breivik said he was trying to destroy and insisted that the country had not lost its innocence.
Around 150,000 people marched through the streets of Oslo on Monday July 25th, carrying roses to pay their respects for the victims. The lines outside flower shops snaked through the city’s alleyway’s as people quietly discussed Friday’s events. But while everyone’s eyes were moist, their stance was defiant and unified in the feeling that this act of violence wouldn’t change them.
The entire city was transformed into a sea of roses that evening and tributes lined the sidewalks that still continued to grow over the following days. People told me they just wanted to be there for each other even if they weren’t directly touched by the killings.
The terrorist had said he’d explain his actions in court and the world’s media were there to report it. We were kept out of the courtroom in the end, which was just around the corner of that downtown bombing on government buildings.
Speaking to people in coffee shops nearby; they didn’t want journalists to give Breivik a platform for his views something he desperately craved. “He shouldn’t have the right to explain himself,” a young woman told me. This was a man that planned what photos he wanted distributed of himself to media outlets after his arrest.
Of course, questions will be asked and lessons learned, an independent review into the mass killings has already been ordered.
The authorities will now be on high alert for others like Breivik and the police will examine their own response to the attacks which has been criticized as being “slow” and “disorganized.” One woman told me, “Norway is a small country, but if we want to be part of the big world we are going to have to accept the consequences.”
As one man tied his rose around a lamp post he turned to me and said, “We will never forget July 22nd, 2011.” No, Norway will never forget, we can be sure of that. The date will be added to all those other moments in history when nations stand together and remember those who died in random acts of terror.
But as the roses fade and life slowly returns to normal in Norway it is admirable to think that so much peace and beauty can still rise from such tragedy.
Listen HERE to a clip of Emily Wither’s reporting from Oslo, Norway: