Norway honors Oslo shooting victims

Norway paid a moving tribute on Sunday to the victims of the bloody shooting in the early hours of Saturday near a gay bar in central Oslo, the capital, which forced the cancellation of an LGBTQIA+ pride march.

Oslo Cathedral held a mass in honor of the dead the day after the attack that left two dead and 21 wounded. The altar was decorated in rainbow colors and with flowers.

“Bullets cannot kill love,” declared the head of the Norwegian Protestant church, Olav Fykse Tveit. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Princess Mette-Marit were present at the ceremony, albeit without their husband, Prince Haakon, who is sick with Covid-19.

The exact reasons for the suspect’s shooting are not yet known, but authorities have described him as an Islamist with a fragile mental health condition.

“Oslo is in mourning and the entire country is shocked by the attack, which particularly hit homosexuals who have gathered to celebrate Pride,” the church said in a statement on Saturday.

The shooting took place at around 01:00 a.m. (8:00 p.m. on Friday) outside a pub and an LGBT club – the London Pub – at a time of large crowds due to the Gay Pride festivities.

Two men between the ages of 50 and 60 died and another 21 people were injured, ten of them seriously.

Norwegian of Iranian origin

The LGBTQIA+ Pride march, which was due to take place on Saturday afternoon in Oslo for the first time in three years due to the pandemic, was canceled on the recommendation of the police. But Oslo Mayor Raymond Johansen promised it would happen at a later date and thousands of people gathered for a spontaneous march.

According to Oslo police, the alleged perpetrator of the shooting is a 42-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian origin, identified by local media as Zaniar Matapour. Norwegian intelligence services indicated on Saturday that the man had been on their radar since 2015 for his radicalization and his involvement in an Islamic extremist network.

In addition, he was convicted of minor crimes and authorities point to a fragile mental health condition.

Police ordered that he be placed under observation to help clarify the issue of his criminal responsibility. But investigators still do not know if the attack was carried out for ideological or religious reasons or if it is a hate crime against the homosexual community or the act of an unbalanced person.

“It could be a combination,” said Oslo police official Børge Enoksen at a press conference on Sunday. “It’s too early to draw conclusions,” he added.

The drama shocked the generally peaceful country, which experienced a dark day in July 2011 when a right-wing extremist killed 77 people in a bomb attack in Oslo and a shooting at a Labor Party youth rally on the island of Utoya. .

Police deployed reinforcements in the capital and intelligence services raised the threat level, calling the situation “extraordinary”.

As a show of solidarity, rainbow flags and bouquets of flowers were placed near the site of the attack, which was cordoned off.

“It’s important to express our condolences and say that love is love and that it’s the same for everyone, that everyone should have the right to live their life as they want,” said Kristin Wenstad, a cook who was at the scene of the tragedy, on the verge of tears. .

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