Voices of Hope from Oklahoma to Norway
One week after the twin attacks in Norway, Oslo is covered with flowers.
The first of many funerals took place on Friday. Young multicultural Bano, who only became 18 years old. Together with her family, she fled Iraq and sought sanctuary in Norway when she was just seven. The funeral services were held in accordance with both Christian and Islamic traditions, and the image of a female priest and an imam side by side contradicted everything the Islamophobic killer stands for.
Two days later, Bano’s 14 year old brother, determined to resume normal activities as soon as possible despite his grief, played his first game in Norway Cup, an international football (soccer) tournament for youth. He was credited an assist – he could have scored himself, but chose to pass the ball to the scorer.
The teddy bears and cards in the sea of flowers in front of Oslo Cathedral will be stored. The candles will be remoulded into new candles. The flowers will become new soil for a memorial site.
The sympathy that has poured in from all over the world has been heart-warming. From Oklahoma, the city that was hit by the dreadful bomb attack in 1995, come recorded Voices of Hope and the message that Norway should establish a memorial site in order not to forget.
Oklahoma has its memorial park, the Oklahoma City National Memorial, including the Field of Empty Chairs with its 168 empty chairs representing those who lost their lives in the attack. Each night, the chairs are lit. There is also the Memorial Fence, where visitors still leave flowers and mementos.
Time for reflection: What if the killer had not been blond with blue eyes, but a Muslim, as so many thought as the news of the bombing of the governmental building reached us? Would we still have stood shoulder by shoulder? Would the anti-Islam rhetoric have become even harsher? As we realized that we were witnessing a home-grown terrorist in action, a mind-changing wind swept over us. This should be a time for all of us – no matter which ethnicity and religion we belong to – to reflect on our own thoughts and prejudices towards others, and we are allowed to say: I was wrong. Forgive me.
Flowers all over: