Dear Nordic colleagues
On August 10, the Municipality of Bærum experienced the unimaginable in our neighborhood. A terrorist attack directed at the Al-Noor mosque, and the murder of a 17-year-old girl. We realize that the consequences could have been much worse, had it not been for the heroic efforts of two elderly men from the mosque who managed to overpower the terrorist. Yet, we have lost a young girl, and many have lost their sense of security. Our society has been shaken.
WHEN A SOCIETY IS SHAKEN, THE MESSAGE MUST BE STEADY
We clearly say that we do not tolerate any form of attack on our diverse society! We will face prejudice against diversity with generosity and knowledge. The Al-Noor mosque’s response to the attack has been an invitation for openness and dialogue. It is a generous and wise approach because when we know each other we can break down prejudice.
Our biggest task during the last two weeks has been to comfort, to gather and to secure people. Our focus has been on the people directly involved; the families and the Al Noor mosque. We have created open meeting places for grief and provided psychological care for those in need. We have held meetings with the other mosques and faith-based organizations. We have held appeals and events for unity. We do not yet know the full extent of this horrific incident. What we do know, is that our work is not over – it continues more intensely than before.
THE ATTACKS HAS SHOWN US THAT WHEN CRISES STRIKE, WE ARE NOT ALONE
We have witnessed the mobilization of many and important forces within our community and in our country.
Our largest asset in this demanding time has been our knowledge of each other. We have had regular meetings with the Al-Noor mosque over the past years and the mosque was also involved in the making of our first action plan against violent extremism, back in 2014. The mosque has continuously worked to create a tolerant and inclusive society; visiting schools together with other faith-based organizations to confirm the peaceful coexistence of different believes.
In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack on Utøya on the 22nd of July 2011; we all said: «Never again». And yet it did happen.
IT IS A STRONG REMINDER THAT THIS IS CONTINUOUS WORK
The Nordic safe cities network represents such a continuous activity. Less than six months ago, our cities and municipalities were gathered in Asker, the neighboring municipality of Bærum. We brought home important knowledge, inspiration, new contacts, and most importantly, the feeling of standing together faced with this difficult, yet not hopeless, task.
Let Elie Wiesel’s words guide us forwards;
“THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE IS NOT HATE, IT’S INDIFFERENCE”
Let us all show that love conquers hate. We can all make a difference.
Lisbeth Hammer Krog,
Mayor of Bærum