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Norway’s PM at Oslo Cathedral this morning

Norway’s PM at Oslo Cathedral this morning

A translation of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s speech in Oslo Cathedral this morning:

It will soon be two days since we suffered the worst crime committed in our land since the war. On Utøya and in Oslo. It feels like an eternity. They have been hours, days, nights filled with shock , despair, anger, and tears.

Today the time has come for mourning. Today we must allow ourselves to take account. To remember the dead. To mourn those who are no longer with us. Ninety-two lives have been lost, several people are still missing. Each and every life that has been lost is a tragedy. And together the number of people killed amounts to a national tragedy.

We are still struggling to get to grips with the dimension of what has happened. Many of us know people that have been killed. And many more have second hand acquaintance with someone that was killed.

I knew several of them. One of them was Monica. She worked at the Utøya camp for more than 20 years. For many of us Monica was Utøya. Now she is dead, shot and killed while creating safe and pleasant acitivities for young people from all over the country. Her husband Jon, and daughters Viktoria and Helene, are attending a service in Drammen Church today. It is so unjust! It is important that you know that we are weeping with you.

Another who is gone is Tore Eikeland, leader of the Labour youth league (AUF) Hordaland and one of our most talented young politicians. I remember when he managed to get the whole Party Congress to break out in applause when he held an impassioned speech about postal policy in Europe. Now he has gone. Gone for always. It is quite simply impossible to grasp.

These are just two of those we have lost. Many more lost their lives on Utøya and in the government buildings. Soon we will have the names of all those who died and see images of them. Then the full extent of the evil that has been perpetrated will become clear, in all its horror. It will be a new ordeal. But we will get through that also.

In the middle of all these tragic events, I am proud to live in a country that has stood firm at a critical time. I am deeply impressed by how much dignity and compassion I have seen. We are a small nation, but a proud people. We will never abandon our values. Our reply is: more democracy, more openness, and more humanity. But never naivity.

No one has said it better than the AUF girl who was interviewed by CNN: “If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we could show, standing together.”

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Benedict Varnum

I'm getting current on this tragedy a little more slowly than I'd like, but I was struck by NPR's coverage this morning (a href="http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=138668628&m=138668613">found here).

The suspect apparently called for a Christian war to combat Islam, and the reporting described how anti-immigrant sentiment has led to a renewal of fascist symbols in Europe, including prominent Nazi symbols.

Part of NPR's suggestion was that European nations are being challenged with an identity crisis ("What does it mean to be British?") as their populations look more and more diverse. Some groups are reacting by turning "multiculturalism" into a dirty word.

I can't help but think that the same forces are at work in the United States both in criticism of Muslim-Americans and Latino-Americans. We have the same fearful sentiments here that react to more diverse communities. I agree that the question of how we can offer love and healing to broken relationships, from the private to the public and global, should be a guiding one. Prayers go out to all those affected by this violence and by hate and violence every day.

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