OSLO (Reuters) -- Nearly 10 years after Anders Behring Breivik tried to kill her on the Norwegian island of Utoeya, Astrid Hoem is back there to explain to a group of teenagers how she ran for her life and hid in a beach cove while Breivik murdered others around her.
“He shot a girl next to me, in the back. She told me: ‘please tell my parents I love them because I am going to die’,” Hoem, 26, tells the high school students. The girl survived.
Breivik detonated a car bomb outside the prime minister’s office in Oslo, killing eight, before driving to Utoeya and shooting 69 people gathered at a Labor Party youth camp on July 22, 2011.
Survivors, many of whom were teenagers at the time, are determined to confront the far-right ideology which was a catalyst for the attack.
“It is important that we talk about it because I do not want it to happen again,” Hoem tells them.
It already has. In New Zealand in March 2019 white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who said in his manifesto he was inspired by Breivik, gunned down 51 people at two mosques.
Later that year, Norwegian Philip Manshaus killed his Chinese-born adopted sister and tried to shoot worshippers at a mosque. He cited Tarrant as an inspiration, according to a court psychiatric report.
“Those opinions, those conspiracies, that hate... is stronger now than it was ten years ago,” Hoem told Reuters.
In April, Labor decided at its party congress that, should it regain power in elections in September, it would set up a commission to investigate the early lives of Breivik and Manshaus to understand and prevent radicalization.
The commission would also probe Norwegians who became takfiri fighters in Syria.
“What can we do to keep young, especially young white males, from turning out so extreme opinions that they feel they can take lives because they disagree with someone? We have to know how to prevent it in school, on the internet, in our communities,” Hoem said.
Survivors also want to debate publicly some mainstream political attitudes that they say provide the ideological justification for extremist violent actions.
Survivors see some mainstream right-wing politicians legitimizing this view by being critical of Muslims and labeling them as a threat to Norwegian society.
Over the past decade, the populist Progress Party has regularly raised its concerns about what it says is “sneaky Islamization” taking place that contradicts Norway’s traditional way of living.