Monday, August 01, 2011

Oslo - Prime Minister's Adress at the Central Jamaat Mosque

Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg.

Dear all of you,

Today the first two victims of the terrorist attacks are being laid to rest.

One of them is18-year-old Bano Rashid from Nesodden.

Her family fled from Iraq in 1996.

They found a safe haven in Norway.

Bano did well at school and was planning to study law. She dreamt of a future in Norway’s parliament.

Her dream was shattered by the gunman on the island of Utøya.

I am full of admiration for her parents, Beyan and Mustafa.

This is what Beyan said to the newspaper Aftenposten:

“The answer is not hatred, but more love.”

Today, her family has said farewell to Bano in a ceremony that was both Norwegian and Kurdish.

The other is 19-year-old Ismail Haji Ahmed from Hamar.

Ismail was an irrepressible performer and an enthusiastic dance instructor.

He inspired a great many people.

And brought joy to even more.

I mourn Bano and Ismail.

They have given the new expanded concept of the Norwegian “we” a face.

We will be one community.

Across religion, ethnicity, gender and rank.

Bano is Norwegian. Ismail is Norwegian. I am Norwegian.

We are Norway. And I am proud of this.

I am also very proud that the Norwegian people have passed the test.

The very heart of our democracy has been attacked.

But this has only strengthened our democracy.

Brought us closer together.

The immediate shock and devastation brought us together.

Later, we came together in protest.

We filled the streets with roses and torches and put a protective arm around democracy.

I am inviting the whole nation to come together as the Norwegian “we”.

The newspapers today are showing pictures of an imam and a bishop embracing each other.

This should be a source of inspiration.

We are all Norway.

Our fundamental values are democracy, humanity and openness.

With this as a platform, we will respect differences, human dignity and equality.

And each other.

And we will face the debates. We will welcome them. Even the difficult ones.

We will all expect one another to champion the fundamental values of the Norwegian “we”.

This is how we will deepen and develop our response to terrorism and violence.

The answer is even more democracy.

Even more humanity.

But never naivity.

It is up to us to write the next chapters of Norway’s history.

There will be a Norway before and Norway after 22 July.

We have already staked out the course. Norway will be recognisable.

The rest is up to us.

Standing here on holy ground, it is important to affirm that we respect one another’s beliefs.

Against that backdrop, diversity must be allowed to blossom and to colour the picture of the Norwegian “we”.

This is how we will honour the memory of Bano, Ismail and the others who died in the attacks on Utøya and Oslo.

Office of the Prime Minister, 27th July 2011

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