The most important thing after the Oslo bombings and Utoya shootings is our thoughts and prayers for those who lost their loved ones. Any loss is painful, this one is unimaginable, and one can only hope that our condolences provide some strength to those affected by this horror.
And the shock is deepened – if that is at all possible – by the motivation. After the news of the bombings, I too started wondering about Norway’s role in Afghanistan, and what an attack by extremists would do for the horrible political climate in Europe and beyond – we should not forget that we first thought of the outsider as responsible.This was simply unimaginable. We have seen buildings destroyed by those who disagreed with our governments. But we had not seen our children murdered, one by one, for an hour-and-a-half, simply because they were children engaged in a community activity.And previous murders were ‘senseless’ – this one, horrifyingly, was not.
Norway, and Europe, cannot be the same after this. It is our responsibility to the kids that were so horribly massacred, and to our own kids, that we realise the impact of the polarisation over the last ten years, and address this. Of course this was the work of one individual, but his unspeakable acts – as far as we now know – have been driven by the politics of Islamophobia and extremism that has consciously divided us in the west for the last ten years.
We all have a responsibility after this, one that the Norwegian Prime Minister pointed at that we now need ‘more democracy’. None of us understands or will ever understand how this happened, in Norway, or if it happened anywhere else. The leaders of the right wing parties across Europe now have a responsibility to engage, in the same way they have asked Muslim leaders to engage with the extremism in their midst. And those who have accepted – actively or passively – the rise of anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant sentiments in our midst have the responsibility to consider where this hateful rhetoric has contributed to and may lead to.