, an Iraqi Kurd who immigrated to Norway as a child and by age 18 had become not only the leader of the
chapter of the youth wing of the ruling Socialist Labor Party (which happens to be a
of Fatah in Socialist International), but a candidate for Nesodden city council, with a glorious future ahead of her in Norwegian politics,—in which, as the
, her goal was to “to stretch the limits of the country’s blond and blue-eyed identity”—was buried yesterday, one of the 77 people killed by Anders Breivik.
July 29, 2011
Norway Displays Unity at Attack Victim’s Funeral
By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ
NESODDEN, Norway—While her friends saved for iPads, Bano Rashid worked at an amusement park last summer to buy a bunad, the ornate and expensive national costume of Norway. Though she was an Iraqi Kurd who came here as a child, Ms. Rashid wanted to stretch the limits of the country’s blond and blue-eyed identity, to help redefine what it means to be Norwegian.
It was a mission that an anti-immigrant extremist sought to thwart when he killed Ms. Rashid, 18, and at least 76 others a week ago in attacks on the government headquarters and at an isolated camp that were meant to turn Norway upon itself.
But the challenge from the extremist, identified by the police as Anders Behring Breivik, has been met with defiance on many fronts, nowhere more so than at Ms. Rashid’s funeral here on Friday, where mourners channeled their grief into a powerful display of unity.
A Muslim imam and female Christian minister presided over a ceremony that drew hundreds of mourners to a small 12th-century church in Ms. Rashid’s hometown, about 25 miles from Oslo, the capital. Her coffin was draped with the red, white and green Kurdish flag, as well as Norway’s red, white and blue.
On a hill overlooking the waters of the Oslo fjord, Norwegians, Kurds and others vowed to honor her life by defying the man responsible for her death.
“We would rather strengthen our trust and love rather than fall victim to his degeneration,” said Roland E. Goksoyr, 18, a friend of Ms. Rashid’s. “We will punish him, not by killing him or torturing him, but by defying his every wish.”
Even so, mourners said, it will be some time before Norway can come to terms with the scope of the tragedy.
Not since World War II, when the country was occupied by the Nazis, has Norway suffered such losses from violence. That many of the victims were young has compounded the anguish.
Mr. Breivik, a self-described Christian crusader, has claimed responsibility for bombing the government headquarters in Oslo on July 22 and then carrying out a massacre at a youth camp not far away on the island of Utoya.
On Friday, the police raised the death toll by one, bringing the total to 77. They said all the missing had been identified, though it was unclear if this was the final toll.
In a 1,500-page manifesto, Mr. Breivik wrote that the attacks were necessary to spark a war that would cleanse Europe of its Muslim immigrants, who he argued were destroying the continent’s Christian heritage and culture. Though most Europeans consider his methods abominable, his anti-immigrant ideas, while extreme, are in tune with a growing current of xenophobia in Europe.
Ms. Rashid spent much of her brief life fighting against these sentiments. She was the leader of the Nesodden branch of the liberal Labor Party’s youth wing, a major political force in Norway. Members of the party’s youth wing typically go on to high-ranking government positions. [LA replies: The Labor Party calls itself the Socialist Labor Party, and is a member of Socialist International; the Times, covering up that basic reality, calls the party “liberal.”]
In articles and speeches at political events she denounced racism and discrimination against immigrants in Norway, whose integration into society she contended was both possible and vital.
“There is no doubt that Oslo would grind to a halt if it went one day without the work of immigrants,” Ms. Rashid wrote last year in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. [To see my response to this false and misleading argument, which has the effect of making Westerners believe that without Third-World immigration their societies cannot survive, go to Chapter One of Huddled Clichés, and scroll down to the cliché: “If we didn’t have immigrants doing all kinds of jobs in America today, there would be nobody to do them.”] “Let Norway use the resources of its immigrants. Give us time to integrate, preferably without discrimination.”
Ms. Rashid’s family came to Norway in 1996 after fleeing Iraq amid mounting violence against Kurds by the government of Saddam Hussein. An outspoken young woman with big brown eyes and a contagious laugh, Ms. Rashid dreamed of becoming Norway’s prime minister one day. She was planning to run in her first election for a seat on Nesodden’s City Council in September.
“She was a light in my life,” said Nina Sandberg, a Labor Party politician who intends to run for mayor here. “She once sat down on a bus with me and said, ‘Hey, I notice you’re a local politician. I’m going to be one as well.’ ”
A week ago, just hours before the attack, Ms. Rashid met her idol, Norway’s beloved former prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, who had come to speak at Utoya. It was raining at the time, Ms. Rashid’s friends and colleagues said, so she gave the former prime minister her galoshes and in exchange received an autograph.
Ms. Rashid’s was the first of dozens of funerals throughout Norway in the coming weeks. Even as the residents of Nesodden said goodbye to Ms. Rashid, they were preparing for the funeral of Diderik A. Olsen, 19, her deputy in the local Labor Party youth group, who was also killed on Utoya.
Elsewhere on Friday, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples of all kinds opened their doors for services to commemorate the victims. Officials spent the day rallying the spirits of Norwegians, urging them to come together in defense of tolerance and multiculturalism.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg attended a service at a mosque in Oslo, drawing wild applause when he said “Salaam aleikum” in greeting the audience.
“Standing here on holy ground, it is important to affirm that we respect one another’s beliefs,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “Against that backdrop, diversity must be allowed to blossom and to color the picture of the Norwegian ‘we.’ ” [LA replies: as a Socialist Labor politician Stoltenberg is almost certainly a non-believer, yet a mosque is “holy ground” to him. For liberals/leftists, there is no God, but the Other is holy—the more Other he is, the more holy he is.]
Many have expressed pride at their country’s ability to confront the tragedy. People have poured into Oslo to pay their respects and makeshift memorials have been erected, blanketing the city in flowers and photographs of the victims.
But for some, especially the young, the shock has been too great to comprehend. Harald Evjan, 16, who saw Ms. Rashid for the last time on Utoya just before the shooting started, said he had not yet figured out how to grieve.
“I can’t feel anything, anything at all,” said Mr. Evjan, who was wearing an orange bracelet with “Utoya” written on it. “I just can’t put the last bit into reality. I feel terrible because I can’t feel anything.”