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'Oslove', Norway's powerful answer to terror

world Updated: Jul 30, 2011 00:00 IST
AFP
Oslo

They call it "Oslove," written with a heart-shaped second 'O,' and a week after the attacks that killed 77 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 Utoeya island, where Anders Behring Breivik gunned down 77 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, 50 metres long and 20 wide. “It feels good to be here, that’s why I come. It’s fantastic to see all this love,” he adds.

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 rampage.

First funeral
Norway honoured the memory of those killed, with the prime minister urging the nation on Friday to unite around its core values of democracy and peace.

An 18-year-old Muslim girl was the first victim to be laid to rest since an anti-immigrant gunman opened fire at a political youth camp and bombed the government headquarters in Oslo.