Oslove: Norway's response to terror

2011-07-29 15:02
People hold flowers and love "Utoya" and "Oslove" signs as thousands of people massed outside Oslo's City Hall on July 25 2011. (Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP)

People hold flowers and love "Utoya" and "Oslove" signs as thousands of people massed outside Oslo's City Hall on July 25 2011. (Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP)

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Oslo - They call it "Oslove", written with a heart-shaped second 'O', and a week after the attacks that killed 76 people in Norway, the symbol of a peace-loving nation's response is everywhere.

The word is carved into rocks marking a mainland jetty used by residents to sail across to Utoya island, where Anders Behring Breivik gunned down 68 mostly young people about an hour away from the capital.

A car bomb blast targeting government offices in the city centre, also claimed by Behring Breivik, killed another eight.

In the night-time bars where Oslo's young are letting their hair down once more after going through an emotional wringer, Norwegians greet strangers with a kiss and the whispered mantra, while outside the city cathedral it crops up time and again in the giant garden tribute to the dead that has sprung up there.

"It's my fourth visit, and each time it has got bigger," said Henrik, 56, of the sea of flowers, flags, candles and messages of condolence, 50m long and 20m wide.

"It feels good to be here, that's why I come. It's fantastic to see all this love," he adds.

National archives

Desperate to find a way to preserve this outpouring of emotion, the mayor of Oslo has said the pictures drawn by children and the other messages left at the site will be gathered up and housed at Norway's national archives.

The flowers, meanwhile, will be turned into compost, to give new life somewhere else.

"It didn't really hit me when I saw it on television," said Oganda Mawanda, a 28-year-old African immigrant, of the floral tribute. "But once you're here in front of it... It's just so terrible what happened."

A mother brings her two little children, aged six and three, to place roses at the scene.

"I tried to explain to them what happened, without going into the details," says Siri Merete Ek of the murderous rampage.

Summarised feelings

One card jutting out sums up the feelings of everyone who stops.

"For those who have left us, for those who have lost someone, for those who have survived, for those who grieve, for those in fear, for those who are sad - thoughts of comfort filled with love," it reads.

Nearby, a boy of five-and-a-half places his offering, depicting balloons floating off into the sky, among the pile.

The scene is just a short hop from the court-house where Breivik made his brief appearance before a judge on Monday, to be remanded in custody as forensics and an international intelligence operation gather the evidence needed to pursue a unique trial next year.

That appearance marked the only time Oslo witnessed an angry public reaction - even then, essentially contained to one youth lashing out at the armoured car bringing in the suspect via an underground back-entrance.

Even as the judge gathered the parties in his closed chambers, "Oslove" had taken root inside the building with a Dutch-Russian couple making their wedding vows on the first floor in a pre-arranged ceremony.

Read more on:    anders behring breivik  |  norway  |  norway attacks
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