Oslo shooting: Memorial service takes place at Oslo Cathedral
A memorial service has been held at Oslo Cathedral to remember the victims of a shooting in the centre of Norway’s capital, Oslo.
Two people died and 21 were wounded on Saturday in what police are treating as an “act of Islamist terrorism”.
A gay bar was one of the targeted locations. A 42-year-old man was arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorist acts.
Oslo’s Pride parade, scheduled for Saturday, was cancelled.
But speaking at the service, Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said calling it off did not deter the fight “against discrimination, prejudices and hate”.
He described how thousands of people had gathered on the city’s streets waving rainbow flags [used as a symbol by the LGBTQ+ community], and laying flowers at the scene of the violence. Many shed tears, and were comforted by other bystanders.
“During the day, the city was full of people who wanted to speak out, about sorrow and anger, but also about support and solidarity and the will to continue on fighting, for the right of every individual to live a free life, a safe life,” Mr Stoere said.
“These misdeeds remind us of this. This fight is not over. It is not safe from dangers. But we are going to win it, together.”
Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended the church service, and the cathedral was decorated with brightly-coloured flowers and rainbow flags.
“Bullets cannot kill love,” said the head of the Norwegian Protestant Church, Olav Fykse Tveit.
He observed that the church had opposed equal rights for same-sex couples for years, noting: “We see that we can learn, sometimes in spite of ourselves, that diversity is a present, a richness, and that many homosexuals have a capacity for love that we are incapable of.”
The shootings happened in the early hours of Saturday, in and around Oslo’s London Pub, a popular LGBTQ+ venue, the Herr Nilsen jazz club, and another pub.
Eyewitnesses said the suspect took out a gun from his bag and started firing, forcing terrified people to either throw themselves to the ground or flee.
The attacker was arrested by police officers – who were helped by bystanders – minutes later. Two weapons were retrieved at the crime scene by police, one of them a fully automatic gun.
On Saturday the terror alert level in Norway was raised to its highest level, though the country’s PST intelligence service said it had “no indication” further attacks were likely.
‘I stood on the shooter’s weapon’
One eyewitness told Norway’s public broadcaster NRK he had stepped on the shooter’s weapon while he was restrained. He described the situation as chaotic.
As the shooter was being tackled by four people, his gun was still on the ground.
“My thought then was to run and stand on it, so that no one would come”, the witness told NRK.
The shooting suspect, described by police as a 42-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian descent who was known to the security services, was questioned by police for a second time on Sunday. Norwegian media have named him as Zaniar Matapour.
The suspect’s lawyer, John Christian Elden, told broadcaster TV2 it was not possible to draw any conclusions about the motives or reasons for the attack.
“There is reason to think that this may be a hate crime,” police said on Saturday. “We are investigating whether… Pride was a target in itself or whether there are other motives.”
‘Suspect was my neighbour’
A woman who lived next door to Mr Matapour told NRK it was “eerie” to find out that he lived so close to her.
She told NRK the feeling was strengthened because her partner is a woman.
The neighbour told NRK she had attended the protest march on Saturday.
Asked whether the shooting had ruined Pride, she replied: “Our case is strengthened – not his.”