While the investigation continues to determine the exact motives of the suspect, described as an Islamist with fragile mental health, an emotional mourning ceremony was celebrated in the cathedral of Oslo, the day after the attack which left two dead and 21 injured.
For the occasion, the altar of the venerable religious building was adorned with rainbow-colored pennants and assorted flowers.
“Bullets cannot kill love,” Norwegian Protestant Church leader Olav Fykse Tveit said.
As Norway marks the fiftieth anniversary of the lifting of the ban on homosexuality, the cleric recalled that the Church has long opposed equal rights for same-sex couples.
“We see that we can learn, sometimes reluctantly, that the diversity between us is a gift, a richness, and that many homosexuals are able to cultivate a love that the rest of us cannot,” he said.
In the audience where Crown Princess Mette-Marit – her husband, Prince Haakon who contracted the Covid – had taken place, some were made up or dressed in rainbow colors.
– Norwegian of Iranian origin –
“The shooting (…) put an end to the Pride march” scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Oslo but canceled on the recommendation of the police, noted Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, with a serious face.
“But it did not end the fight and the effort against discrimination, prejudice and hatred,” he said.
The shootings occurred early Saturday at around 0100 (2300 GMT Friday) outside a pub and then outside a nearby gay club, the London Pub, causing panic among many night owls at a time when parties linked to the Pride were in full swing.
Two men in their 50s and 60s were killed and 21 others injured, ten seriously.
Quickly arrested, the alleged perpetrator of the shooting is, according to the Oslo police, a 42-year-old Norwegian of Iranian origin, whom the Norwegian media have identified as Zaniar Matapour.
On the radar of domestic intelligence services since 2015 for his radicalization and his membership in an extremist Islamist network, the man, also convicted of relatively minor offenses, could also be in fragile mental health.
The police ordered him under observation to help shed light on the question of his criminal responsibility.
– Tributes from all walks of life –
Attack motivated by ideological or religious considerations? Hate crime against the homosexual community? Gesture of an unbalanced? Investigators say they are not closing any doors at this stage, especially since the suspect refused to be heard on Saturday.
Eleven years after the bloody attacks perpetrated by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, tragedy has again shaken the generally peaceful kingdom, where the level of threats has been raised to the highest notch and where vigilance has been reinforced with more numerous and exceptionally armed police.
“It is important to express our condolences and to say that love is love, and it is the same for everyone, that everyone should have the right to live their life as they wishes”, testifies, on the verge of tears, Kristin Wenstad, a chef, who came to meditate on the scene of the tragedy.
Often in tears, countless anonymous people laid bouquets of flowers and rainbow flags around the perimeter cordoned off by the police.
If the Pride march, which was to be the first in three years because of the pandemic, was canceled — or postponed, according to the mayor of Oslo — thousands of people gathered for a spontaneous parade on Saturday.
To pay tribute to the victims, Norwegian football star Ada Hegerberg brandished a rainbow-colored armband after scoring the first goal in the women’s victory on Saturday night against New Zealand.
From French President Emmanuel Macron to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, many foreign leaders have condemned the attack and assured the homosexual community of their sympathy.