Norwegian killings exhibit stirs fears of Breivik "hall of fame"

Anders Behring Breivik (right) arriving at the court for his hearing in Oslo, Norway, Feb 6, 2012.
Anders Behring Breivik (right) arriving at the court for his hearing in Oslo, Norway, Feb 6, 2012. PHOTO: EPA

OSLO (REUTERS)- A planned exhibition about the killings of 77 people in 2011 is angering some Norwegians, who fear it will turn into a "hall of fame" for mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

The exhibition, opening next week in the government building in central Oslo where Breivik killed his first eight victims on July 22, 2011, will include his fake police identity card and bits of the mangled van in which he planted a bomb.

Norway's Conservative-led government says the information centre, likely to last five years, has been planned in consultation with some survivors and relatives to help the Nordic nation come to terms with the attacks.

But many want to forget Breivik, now aged 36 and in prison. "It's regrettable that the attacker is getting the attention he always sought," Tor Oestboe, whose wife was among those killed in Oslo, told Reuters.

He said he saw a need for information but feared the exhibition and inclusion of personal items would provide a "hall of fame" for Breivik.

After detonating the bomb, Breivik travelled to an island outside Oslo and shot dead 69 people, many of them teenagers attending a summer camp run by the then-ruling Labour Party.

"July 22 is an open wound and it hurts, and I understand that it will be hard for many people to visit this exhibition,"Minister of Local Government and Modernisation Jan Tore Sanner told Reuters.

"We cannot and should not forget this story. Knowledge is the most important instrument against hate, violence and extremism," he said, adding the attacks would be part of the education of children and future generations.

Breivik, a right-wing anti-Muslim radical who accused Labour of allowing too much immigration, is serving a 21-year prison term, Norway's maximum sentence. It can be extended if he is judged to be a threat at the end.

John Christian Elden, a lawyer for some of the survivors, also objected to the exhibition, saying it was unthinkable that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's possessions would be on show at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York.

And he said the planned Oslo display was in a building where many survivors may work in future, after repairs. "Lots of them don't need to be reminded of the terrorist every day by seeing his stuff in a 'learning centre' at their workplace," he wrote in an email.