Oslo: Mosque holds memorial ceremony for terror victims

Oslo: Mosque holds memorial ceremony for terror victims

Via TV2 and BT (Norwegian):

On Tuesday the World Islamic Mission mosque in Oslo conducted a memorial ceremony for the victims of the terror attacks. Among the participants were Crown Prince Haakon, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre, Equality Minister Audun Lysbakken (SV), Oslo mayor Fabian Stang (H), American ambassador Barry White and the Bishop of Oslo Ole Christian Kvarme.

There were all welcomed warmly by Imam Najeeb Naz.

"76 lives were lost in this tragic act. Cynical killings of young people with a future before them. The unthinkable became reality. These lives weren't lost in vain. An already good and harmonious Norwegian society will now be made even better," the imam said in his opening speech to the many attendees. "We are a diverse society and today we remember a diverse group of innocent victims."

"The murderer was white, Christian for all I know, a little younger than me and very similar in appearance. None of you have branded me as a possible murderer. If a Muslim ever does something that can't be accepted, I promise I'll never brand you," Mayor Fabian Stang told the assembled.

"Today a whole nation can - regardless of all the dividing lines a modern society has: geography, generations, politics, religion - come together. Not to get all the answer, but to draw strength," said Minister Støre, who quoted comforting words from Koran before the diverse assembled crowd.

Støre came directly from Ullevål hospital. "There I met survivors, severely wounded, youth who've been marked for life and despairing parents who will never see their loved ones again. We must stand together for a long time. We are going to need each other for a long time," he said.

Støre told of one of the survivors he met the day before.

"I met a boy from Arendal who had swam for his life. I told him I will be in the mosque today. Then he said: Those of us who swam from Utøya, we didn't swim from any God. We swam for our lives." There were Muslims, Christians, Atheists and people of other faiths. Then they came together to unite on the most important thing: life, fellowship and the future they have together," he said.

Støre pointed out that Norwegian society is in constant change and that it's not possible to stop the development, but that everybody in Norway must unite on what we have in common and not the differences. He pointed out that Breivik was against democracy, rule of law and international agreements that Norway signed to protected these basic institutions.

"I find great strength that we gather in our common house. This isn't my place of worship, but I feel at home here. A vast majority can also do so when they are home with me," Støre said.

"I'm very happy that tone-setters were careful that moment and didn't point fingers. Because we now see that this was in the midst of us so-called ethnic Norwegians. It's a major challenge to see how this could happen," Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre told TV2's reporter Pål T. Jørgensen, outside the World Islamic Mission mosque in Oslo.

"There's also an idea told by the mayor of Oslo; next time something happens, we should be careful in drawing conclusions. Nobody here said that everybody who looks like the perpetrator is like him. And that is something we should think about in a different way when gruesome incidents happen in other places - not everybody who looks like those who commit the gruesome incidents are like them," said Støre.

Lysbakken came to the mosque from a meeting with several immigrant organizations. "They were gathered because some of them might fear that society will become more divided," says Lysbakken.

"That was the aim of these attacks, but instead many of them told me: before we said 'them' and 'us' in Norway, now we say 'we'. Maybe we can manage to continue to say 'we' and then we'll be a stronger and better society," said Lysbakken.

Bishop Ole Christian Kvarme also spoke of the erroneous assumptions of many about who was responsible for the explosion.

"When the bomb went off, many wanted to point fingers. But it was an attack by one of our Norwegian Norwegians. Our answer the past days and this evening is that we stand together in grief and we want to live together."