Norway attacks shock, disgust Europe

The deadly twin attacks in Norway generated calls to counter the far-right intolerance.

Berlin: The deadly twin attacks in Norway were greeted with an outpouring of sympathy and disgust across Europe and beyond on Saturday, and generated calls to counter the far-right intolerance that may have motivated the assailant.

A massive bombing on Friday in the heart of Oslo was followed by a horrific shooting spree on an island hosting a youth retreat for the Prime Minister`s centre-left party. The same man, a Norwegian with reported Christian fundamentalist, anti-Muslim views, was suspected in both attacks.

While the background isn`t yet entirely clear, "it is said that hatred was a motive," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin. "Hatred of others, hatred of those who look different, of the supposedly foreign — this hatred is our common enemy."

"All of us who believe in freedom, respect and peaceful coexistence, we all must confront this hatred," she said.

Neighbouring Sweden`s Prime Minister said Norwegian society "now faces a tough challenge. But the questions will also reach us here in Sweden”.

"Remember that what an extremist does can very often be used by other extremists. Our task is to show another way," Fredrik Reinfeldt said in Stockholm.

"We all have to stand up together and show what is important: to respect each other, to take care of each other, to stand up for democracy, openness and show respect for all people, not the least young people who have chosen to engage themselves politically."

President Obama called Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to express personally and on behalf of the American people his deepest condolences for the dozens of innocent Norwegians killed and injured in what he called the "senseless attacks" in Oslo and Utoya Island, the White House said on Saturday.

The UN Security Council members also issued a statement in which they "condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist incidents in Norway, calling "terrorism in all its forms and manifestations ... one of the most serious threats to international peace and security."

Germany`s top Jewish leader also highlighted the need to fight extremism.

"As a group that itself is always threatened by hatred, fanaticism and terrorism, we can identify particularly with the terrible loss of Norwegian society," Dieter Graumann said, German news agency dapd reported.

Austria`s opposition Freedom Party, which has drawn criticism in the past for anti-immigration and anti-Islamic rhetoric, condemned the attacks sharply. "It is absolutely abhorrent how young people were systematically killed," general secretary Harald Vilimsky said, according to the Austria Press Agency.

Pope Benedict XVI said in a condolence message to Norway`s King Harald V that he was "profoundly saddened" by the great loss of life caused by the "senseless violence" in the bombing and the following massacre.

The pope invoked God`s peace on the dead and offered "fervent" prayers for the victims and their families.

Earlier on Saturday, the pope`s envoy to Norway, Archbishop Paul Tscherrig, said Roman Catholics would be praying for the victims and remembering the dead at Sunday Mass.

European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek expressed shock at the targeting of youths at a political party camp.

"This is an unimaginable tragedy for the families who lost their loved ones, young people at the outset of their adult life, fascinated with public service," he said. "It`s shocking how one can inflict so much evil."

Pakistan, which has been a frequent target of attacks by Islamic extremists, said its President and Prime Minister "strongly condemned" the attacks.

"Pakistan itself has suffered enormously from terrorist attacks and fully empathises with the government and the people of Norway," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Closer to home, Finland`s European Affairs Minister, Alexander Stubb, said that "when I see what happened in Norway I just want to cry”.

"It just feels so wrong," Stubb wrote on Twitter. "Wish I could give Norway a big hug."

Other leaders condemning the attacks in Norway included Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In a statement, Venezuela`s Foreign Ministry said Chavez "extends his message of solidarity and hope to all the relatives and friends of the victims, to the Norwegian people and their authorities in this painful moment."

Bureau Report

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