By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Norway has been holding ceremonies to mark the first anniversary of a bombing and shooting massacre by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik.
At a wreath-laying ceremony on July 22 at the site of the bomb attack in downtown Oslo, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg maintained that Breivik had failed to alter the country’s commitment to inclusiveness and multiculturalism:
“The bomb and the shooting was meant to change Norway but the Norwegian people answered by embracing our values,” he said. “The perpetrator failed, the people won. Today we remember the 77 who were killed, eight of them here at the government quarters.”
He added that the country must now look forward:
“Let this be the promise we make today,” he said. “Let us honor the dead by living life.”
Norway’s King Harald V was also in attendance.
Stoltenberg later presided over a minute’s silence as part of series of ceremonies that were held on Utoeya Island, where Breivik killed 69 people — many of them teenagers — in a shooting rampage following the downtown Oslo bombing.
Stoltenberg said that, following the attacks, Norwegians had “unswervingly defended humanity and diversity in our open, trusting society.”
He also called for a greater clampdown upon vitriolic comments made online.
Norwegian Health Minister Anne-Grete Stroem-Erichsen also attended the Utoeya events.
“We have to stand together in solidarity and not let one man destroy us,” she said. “That is the most important [thing], I think.”
The event on Utoeya was attended by survivors and relatives of those murdered and was also broadcast live on television.
Christin Bjelland, the mother of a survivor of the Utoeya attack, stressed how important it is for relatives of victims to know the entire country is with them in their grief:
“All of us who have lost a dear one know that after one year, it’s very important to set aside a little bit of time and remember the person we lost,” she said. “What happened here is so huge [and] there were so many affected that I think it means a lot to come together for those who wish and [to] feel the love and care between all the affected.”
Up to 100,000 people were later expected to attend an evening concert in front of Oslo’s town hall on July 22.
Breivik has pleaded not guilty to murder in the case and a verdict in his trial is expected on August 24.