A terrorist attack in Norway that included a bombing and shooting spree at a youth camp left 76 people dead and the usually peaceful country unused to political violence in shock on Friday. The suspect, Norwegian-born Anders Behring Breivik who confessed to the massacre, pleaded not guilty in his first court hearing Monday, saying the attack was meant to inspire Norwegians to retake their country from Muslims and other immigrants.
The attack began around 3:30pm with a large explosion in Oslo’s government district, killing eight. Half-an-hour later, a man believed to be Breivik and dressed in a uniform resembling a police officer landed on Utøya Island, which houses a youth camp led by Norway’s Labor party. Openly carrying two weapons, he first tells the campers he is there to protect them before opening fire and killing 68 in an estimated hour-long shooting spree.
Aftermath of the bomb blast in Oslo’s government district that killed eight.
Norway is best known for its open and trusting society. Many police officers there don’t carry guns and most government buildings are not protected. Under the current laws, the toughest prison sentence Breivik can receive if found guilty is 21 years.
According to reports, Breivik holds extreme anti-Islamic, anti-Marxist, and pro-Zionist views. Before his killing spree, he reportedly uploaded a 1,500 page manifesto entitled “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence” in which he lays out such a worldview. In one section he states, “the root of Europe’s problems is the lack of cultural self-confidence [nationalism]…this irrational fear of nationalistic doctrines is preventing us from stopping our own national/ cultural suicide as the Islamic colonization is increasing annually.”
Friday’s deadly attack in Norway is a somber reminder that extremists willing to murder for their cause come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. And while some may rightly argue that the attack also highlights a real problem with European states’ failure to integrate their Muslim populations, it must be stated that terrorism and murder is never the answer and must be discredited wherever it is faced.