Seventy-six people lay dead in Norway, slaughtered by an extremist bent on unleashing hell amongst one of the world’s most peaceful countries. Yet despite killer Anders Breivik’s best efforts, the people of Norway came together in a show of solidarity that should serve as an example for all those subjected to the despicable efforts of terrorists, domestic or foreign.
The Economist dubbed the Oslo and Utoya rampage as “the most devastating attack on a Scandinavian country since the second World War,” a truth that left some worried as to how Norwegians would react to this kind of violence. Norway has only been subject to 15 terrorist attacks in the last 40 years, according to the Global Terrorism Database, all of which resulted in one fatality and 13 injuries total. By comparison, the United States has seen over 2,300 in the same period, with thousands of deaths.
For an even more chilling perspective, consider that the loss of life in Norway on July 22 was nearly double that of September 11 when taking relative population size into account, and Norway’s victims were mostly children.
Yet amongst all this horror, the Norwegian response was truly a thing of wonder. Hundreds of thousands came to Oslo in the days following the attacks in a national showing of solidarity and love. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg took to national airwaves, declared that “we will take care of each other … we will mourn our dead. Tomorrow we shall prove that the Norwegian democracy will be even stronger” and boldly vowed that “no one shall bomb us to silence, no one shall shoot us to silence, no one shall scare us out of being Norway.”
In the days following the shooting, members of the political youth group targeted by the killer lived up to their Prime Minister’s promise. Political youth groups of all kinds have seen their numbers surge since the shooting. “We have to strengthen politics even more,” Khamshajiny Gunaratnam, one of the members of the AUF’s (the political party that ran the camp on Utoya) executive committee told the New York Times, “and you don’t do that by pulling back.”
“We’ll keep fighting for our value,” Gunaratnam declared.
As the bodies are slowly identified and laid to rest, Norway will continue to deal with this devastating and transformative event. However, all signs indicate that the country will come out stronger, freer, and more democratic than before.
In the end, Breivik’s ultimate legacy will not be that of his twisted goals, but that of a nation that refuted his violence and hatred in a way that will set an example for the rest of the world to follow.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons