On the 10th anniversary of Norway’s worst peacetime slaughter, survivors of Anders Behring Breivik’s assault worry that the racism which nurtured the anti-Islamic mass murderer is re-emerging in a nation known for its progressive politics.
Most of Breivik’s 77 victims on July 22, 2011, were teen members of the Labor Party — idealists enjoying their annual camping trip on the tranquil, wooded island of Utoya, in a lake northwest of Oslo, the capital. Today many survivors are battling to keep their vision for their country alive.
“I thought that Norway would positively change forever after the attacks. Ten years later, that hasn’t happened. And in many ways, the hate we see online and the threats against people in the Labor movement have increased,” said Aasmund Aukrust, then-deputy leader of the Labor Youth Wing who helped organize the camp.
Today he’s a national lawmaker campaigning for a nationwide inquiry into the right-wing ideology that inspired the killer.
Aukrust ran from the bullets flying through the forest then lay hidden for three terrifying hours while he saw friends murdered nearby. A vocal proponent of properly reckoning with the racism and xenophobia in Norway, Aukrust has been the target of online abuse, including receiving the message that “we wish Breivik had done his job.”
The victims of the Utoya massacre came from towns and villages throughout Norway, turning a personal tragedy into a collective trauma for many of the country’s 5.3 million inhabitants. Survivors were joined by a shaken population who were determined to show that Norway would become more — not less — tolerant and reject the worldview that motivated the killer.