Norway: Tenth anniversary of the Utøya Island massacre

25 July, 2011. Town Hall Square in Oslo filled with people with roses mourning the victims of the Utøya island massacre and the deadly bombing in Oslo (Photo: Rødt nytt/Wikimedia Commons)

On the morning of the 22nd July 2011, we all heard on the radio news that a massive bomb had exploded outside of the Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter in Oslo Norway that housed office workers and Social Democratic politicians working there. The bomb contained 90 tons of explosive material made from a mixture of diesel fuel and fertiliser – copying the explosives used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

This horrific concoction had been carried in a white van, driven by a man in an official-looking security uniform. He was seen on CCTV calmly walking away from the offices. Moments later, the bomb exploded, killing just eight people but injuring over 200. The killer had, from his point of view, timed it badly. Many people were on holiday that day otherwise the death toll would have been far higher.

The brutal attacker then switched to another vehicle – a car – and drove west to his next destination. A dragnet of police cars was blocking the roads but a matter of minutes behind him. The police helicopters were not in service that day.

Utøya Island

This brutal murderer then took the ferry over to the island of Utøya where the summer camp of the AUF (the youth organisation of the Labour Party) was taking place. Still dressed as a policeman, he chatted to the other passengers on the ferry, saying he had been posted to the island to protect everyone. The news of the bombing in Oslo had already reached the summer camp attendees.

Many people, even now, cannot bear to mention the name of Anders Behring Breivik but refer to him as ‘ABB’. Once arrived at the site, this monster took out a rifle and started shooting wildly at the socialist youth. When some of the youngsters were wounded, he took out his pistol and “headshot executed” them. This was something ABB said he had practiced and learned from the computer game “Counter-strike”.

In all, sixty-nine AUF YS members were killed that day and just as many injured. The youngest was just 14 years old. Brevik put down his weapon when the police arrived. He is now serving 20 years in jail, with a chance of getting out if prison authorities think he has reformed. ABB did not show any mercy to his victims or any remorse at his trial. When entering the courtroom, he said, “Heil Hitler!” and gave a Nazi salute.

In the run-up to the commemorations this year of the awful massacre, there have been TV broadcasts showing how people who lived just across from the island took out their own boats to try and save lives. They did rescue some of the youth, as shown on national TV. True heroes! There have been between fifteen and twenty TV documentaries made about the events, at least thirteen books, and now a new production for Netflix.

Many would ask how racism can exist in a country like Norway. But, as Malcolm X put it: “You cannot have capitalism without racism”. This country, under the Social Democrats, has possibly been one of the most successful forms of capitalism in the world. Workers here enjoy a high standard of living. The AP (Workers’ Party) was in power when oil was found in the North Sea, and the industry was nationalised and the profits went into the national Treasury. With all that wealth supposedly in the hands of the workers, there has still been racism. There is also women’s oppression and attacks all the time on the LGBTQIA+ community. To put it simply: we still live in a capitalist state.

The direct political representatives of the capitalists – the Conservative (H) party – have in the past eight years transferred huge sums from the national budget (oil fund) to the rich in the form of tax cuts. One AP politician has said it amounted to the equivalent of a bottle of expensive champagne for every hour of the day, while the rest of us get the price of a cup of coffee once a day. Since the start of Covid19, we have seen profits for the four food supermarket chains double and something similar in the Sports shop chains and DIY shops. This does not include the money that the capitalists got in Covid handouts.


Day in, day out, we hear that people from another country with a different colour skin or different religion are not to be trusted or given a job, or allowed to rent property. We have seen the Conservative Party wanting to deport 16-year-old Mustafa Hasan who was just six when he came to Norway. His mother was deported soon after they arrived in the country. The son is now being told he has to leave, as well, and the youth wings of the left parties are campaigning for him to be allowed to stay.

There have been many racial attacks and killings since 22nd July 2011. Just last month, a man appeared in court after killing his step-sister (who was Chinese-born) and attacking a mosque with a gun. His plans were foiled when he found only a few elderly men at the mosque. They quickly overpowered him after he had fired just a few shots. His motives, however, were a chilling “echo of July 22”, as the National newspaper, Dagsavisen, put it.

The Progress Party (FrP) is the main right-wing party and is constantly calling for the repatriation of poorer immigrants. In their last period in government, they bragged about sending 40,000 out of the country in four years. This included sending people back to war-torn countries. There were few protests by the Social Democrats or left-wing parties – only on high profile cases – and no agitation by the trade unions. They have a reputation of sitting on their hands and doing nothing. They should be out organising demonstrations against racism in all the major towns of Norway,

Fighting the system

In the aftermath of the killing last year of George Floyd and the huge demonstrations in the US, we had the spontaneous erupting of youth and people of colour in many towns and cities across Europe. Norway was no exception. On a local BLM demo, some Norwegian teenage girls said they were there, “Because all of friends of colour are discriminated against. We are women and we get discriminated against too”.

In addition, getting rid of the causes of racism, like bad housing, or building tenement-like houses in areas that have no jobs, a real socialist government would build houses fit for people to live in, with proper services, parks, and play areas. Instead, today’s ‘politicians’ close youth centres, maternity units, and health centres, and all in the name of saving money.

What we need is a truly socialist government – one that is prepared to fight for the working people of all nations and creeds – not one that carries out cuts and savings so that the rich can get richer and richer. We need a democratic socialist Norway, a socialist Europe, and a socialist world.

The CWI expresses its solidarity with all the families and comrades of the fallen on the tenth anniversary of the horrific massacre of the 22nd July 2011.



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July 2021