The queer scene wants to celebrate the first major Pride parade in Oslo since the pandemic. Then shots are fired. Two people are dead, many injured. The Norwegian secret service assumes Islamist terror.

It should have been the start of a boisterous party weekend – but fatal shots by a suspected Islamist have turned a popular gay bar in Oslo into a place of terror.

In the center of the Norwegian capital, the attacker shot dead two men on Saturday night. At least 21 others were injured, according to the police, ten of them seriously. The PST secret service classified the attack as an Islamist terrorist attack and raised the terror alert level to the highest level.

The attacker, whom the police arrested that night with the help of civilians, is said to be a Norwegian with Iranian roots. Two unregistered weapons – a pistol and an assault rifle – were confiscated. Hate crimes are strongly assumed, said police inspector Tore Soldal in the morning. Investigator Christian Hatlo told the Norwegian newspaper “VG” that the 42-year-old had previously committed a criminal offense and had become radicalized.

state of health should be examined

The police searched his apartment during the night and the arrested man was interrogated for the first time in the afternoon. He was suspicious of the police, his defense attorney John Christian Elden then told NRK. One must be careful with speculation as to the motive. The mental health of the man should also be examined.

The nightclub “London Pub” – the main target of the attacks – is considered a popular meeting place for gays, lesbians and other members of the queer scene in Oslo. On its own website, the club describes itself as the city’s best “gay bar” and “gay headquarters since 1979”. Actually, many wanted to celebrate there into the weekend: On Saturday, after cancellations due to the corona pandemic, a “Pride Parade” should have taken place in Oslo for the first time – it was canceled again. The bar wasn’t the only crime scene. Shots were also fired in other places on the party mile in the early hours of Saturday.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre assured the queer community: “We stand by your side.” He said in front of journalists in the afternoon: “When the attacker started shooting, everything turned from joy, laughter and love to hate, bullets and murder.” Once again the country has been hit by a brutal attack on innocent people. Norway is actually considered a peaceful country. But the terrorist attack on Utøya eleven years ago, which was motivated by right-wing extremists and claimed 77 lives, left a deep wound in the feeling of security.

Attack triggers horror

The renewed violence, which has killed a man in his 50s and another in his 60s, has sparked horror in Norway and beyond. King Harald V (85) called on his countrymen to stand together. It is important to uphold common values ​​such as freedom, diversity and respect for one another so that everyone can feel safe. Head of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) also expressed their dismay. “The Norwegian people can rest assured of our sympathy. The fight against terror unites us,” Scholz wrote on Twitter.

The organizers of the “Pride Parade”, who actually wanted to celebrate their 40th parade on Saturday, canceled the entire event on the advice of the police. “We will soon be proud and visible again,” said “Pride” boss Kristin Haugsevje. But now you want to stop and send love and good wishes to the relatives of the victims. However, in the afternoon, according to NRK, a few thousand gathered and paraded through the streets of Oslo, where the parade should have taken place.

Rain bean flags still lined the whole of Oslo on Saturday – not only restaurants and bars, but also embassies and official buildings. On the eve of the planned spectacle, there had already been celebrations in many places in the city late into the night. Even just before midnight it was not quite dark on the June night.

Panic and despair at the crime scene

After the first shots were fired, the exuberant mood around the “London Pub” turned to panic and despair, as reported by an NRK journalist who was at the scene. He saw the dead on the street and emergency services trying to take care of the injured as quickly as possible.

Jonas Nilsen Sripilom, who actually wanted to come to the “London Pub” but then went to another party, could hardly believe when he heard about the attacks. “Not in our Oslo.” The act shows that the Pride parade still has a reason, Sripilom told the broadcaster NRK. “It’s not just about having fun and adorning yourself with glitter and colour. We march because we are hated. The fight isn’t over yet.”

Surrounded by a large crowd of people, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway together with Prime Minister Støre laid flowers at the crime scene in the afternoon. The chimes of the town hall played “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. On Sunday, the royals wanted to attend a funeral service at Oslo Cathedral.