Norway is still searching for answers and solace one year after the Anders Behring Breivik massacre that killed 77 people.
The right-wing extremist confessed to the killings, but said they were a necessary step to preventing the “Islamification” of Norway.
His sanity was at the heart of his trial, which ended last month; a verdict is expected in August.
“Very few people go through a day without thinking of the events,” one Norwegian told Reuters. “A person you miss, someone you were supposed to hang out with, or seek advice from … or something that just reminds you of what happened.”
On July 22, 2011, Breivik detonated a car bomb outside a government office in Oslo, killing eight.
Dressed as a police officer, he then gunned down 69 young people – mostly teens – attending a summer camp on the holiday island of Utoya organized by Norway’s left-leaning Labor Party.
A special ceremony for survivors and victims’ families is set for Sunday on Utoya; a wreath-laying ceremony and church services, plus a concert, are set for Oslo.
One survivor has written a book about the ordeal, and a photographer on the island has released many photos of Utoya before the massacre.
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He hopes they help everyone remember the island as the picturesque destination that it was for decades, not a site of grief and pain.
“It was a good way to evoke the good memories, the ones we want to have of the people we lost,” Tore Sinding Bekkedal told Deutsche Welle. “But at the same time, there’s an extraordinary bitterness about never being able to spend any more such happy moments with the same people.”
As the anniversary arrives, the country is facing another challenge.
Opposition politicians are railing against Norway’s Roma population. Online, some Norwegians complaining of noise and unsanitary conditions in the Gypsy camps are lacing their comments with racism.
It has Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg pleading for tolerance.
“Some of what we have seen is frightening,” Stoltenberg said, according to The Associated Press. “Nobody shall be judged because they belong to a certain ethnic group.”
Norwegians prepare for massacre anniversary by reuters