Everyone had a flower


On the surface the centre of Oslo appeared its usual bustling self today – the roads were busy with traffic and pedestrians made their way purposefully through the crowded streets.

But if you looked a little closer you would have noticed something rather startling. Virtually everyone had in their hand a flower.

Some were carrying a single rose, some a sunflower, others a multi- coloured bouquet. All were heading for the various memorials which have sprung up across the city – tributes to the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

The biggest is at the cathedral where an ever-growing floral carpet now covers the ground outside. Thousands and thousands of people have been here today.

Start Quote These flowers are full of pain and tears”

Gabriella Stanland Jewellery designer

They stood quietly in contemplation, many with tears in their eyes, or they hugged their companions and offered consoling words.

Among the crowd was Gabriella Stanland, a jewellery designer who had made the journey from her home in Stavangar in the south-west to lay a bouquet.

“These flowers are full of pain and tears,” she said.

Then, turning to the subject of Anders Breivik – the man who has provoked the outpouring of grief in Norway – she spoke of her hope that he would be punished for what he had done: “We Norwegians aren’t naturally angry people.

“Even when we argue, we don’t do it in loud voices. But this man has done evil and he must pay the penalty. They should never let him out.”

But later in the day, as the crowds gathered for a rally outside the town hall, the mood was less one of demanding retribution than sending out a message of defiance.

A sea of people stretching back as far as the eye could see held roses aloft as they listened to speeches calling for Norway not to let the attacks change its way of life.

This nation may be in mourning but its people are determined to respond to the violence of Anders Breivik with peace and unity – BBC