Norway’s Utøya Memorial Gets Go-Ahead Despite Local Opposition

Home » News from Norway » Norway’s Utøya Memorial Gets Go-Ahead Despite Local Opposition

A Norwegian court has dismissed local opposition to a memorial being built to mark the 2011 terrorist attack at Utøya island.

Almost ten years have passed since the tragic events on Utøya shocked Norway and the world.

The planned memorial on Utøya island, Norway

On July 22, 2011, right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in an Oslo bombing followed by a massacre on the island where he had posed as a police officer.

Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison, the maximum sentence in Norway. However, the sentence can be extended indefinitely as long as the prisoner is deemed a threat to society.

Memorial construction is underway

Construction of a national memorial began a few months ago, but locals had taken their opposition to the courts.

Norway's Utøya island seen from the mainland.
Utøya island

This week, Ringerike District Court ruled in favour of the state and AUF–the youth wing of Norway's Labour Party–allowing the project to continue.

An AUF spokesperson said they were “satisfied and relieved.” Secretary General Sindre Lyso explained that a national memorial “means an awful lot to those who lost someone, the survivors and their relatives.”

A spokesperson for the locals say they are “shocked and disappointed.” The group has one month to launch an appeal.

Why are locals upset?

Some residents near Utoya believe that the memorial will prolong the trauma they suffered on July 22, 2011.

The trial has been defined by strong emotions on both sides. Several of the locals involved in the legal case helped to rescue young people by boat on the day of the attacks.

A sign on Utøya Island in Norway

While many believe a national memorial is appropriate, it will undoubtedly make the site–located at the ferry dock used to get to the island–one for dark tourism.

About the memorial

The process to get to a memorial site has been a long, complex one. Almost four years ago, the original planned memorial at Sørbråten was cancelled because of fierce local opposition.

Read more: The 22 July movie on Netflix

In order to avoid conflict with neighbours, the AUF-owned Utøykaia site was chosen for the revised memorial. AUF also owns Utøya island itself.

When complete, it will feature 77 bronze columns, each three metres high. That's one for each of the lives lost on 22 July, 2011. Unfortunately, the memorial will not be finished in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

Norway Weekly Subscribe Banner

Leave a Comment