Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Pexels
The official Oslo Pride parade was cancelled over the weekend after two people died on Saturday (25 June) after a gunman fired in and near the London Pub, a popular LGBTQ+ venue.
21 other people were injured in the incident, which police have labelled as an "act of Islamist terrorism" according to the BBC. Two men in their 50s and 60s died in the shootings.
Reuters reports that the country's Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, said at a news conference: "Everything indicates that this has been an attack by an Islamist extremist. We don't (yet) know if the queer community was the intended target, but we know it is a victim."
The attacker, who Reuters reports is a 42-year-old Norwegian of Iranian origin, opened fire at around 01:15 local time on Saturday. He was arrested by nearby police officers with the aid of bystanders minutes soon after.
He is also said to have been radicalised and was known to intelligence services.
Bili Blum-Jansen, who was in the London Pub at the time of the attack, told local media he fled to the basement to escape the gunfire along with up to 100 other people.
"Many called their partners and family, it felt almost as if they were saying goodbye. Others helped calm down those who were extremely terrified.
"I had a bit of panic and thought that if the shooter or shooters were to arrive, we'd all be dead. There was no way out," he said.
Norway's terror alert level has been raised to its highest level following the attack but no further attack are expected.
Despite the official Pride march being cancelled, thousands of people still took to the streets of central Oslo chanting: "We're here, we're queer, we won't disappear."
Rainbow flags and bouquets of flowers were laid near the scene of the attack.
After an attack on a gay bar in Oslo last night, Pride was officially cancelled but people spontaneously gathered and marched to the bar to leave flowers. Seeing people crying, cheering and being courageous to go to the streets is the most beautiful thing I witnessed. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/RSGAqOidJe— m 🏳️🌈 (@formulamaja) June 25, 2022
At a memorial for the victims of the attack at the Norwegian capital’s cathedral on Sunday (26 June), Støre, said: "These misdeeds remind us of this. This fight is not over. It is not safe from dangers. But we are going to win it, together."
"The shooting put an end to the Pride march, but it has not put an end to the fight to end discrimination, prejudice and hate."
In the US, White House's National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said: "We're all horrified by the mass shooting in Oslo today targeting the LGBTQI+ community there and our hearts obviously go out to the all the families of the victims, the people of Norway, which is a tremendous ally, and of course the LGBTQI+ community there and around the world."
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that she was "shocked by the heinous attack on innocent people."
Adding: "No-one should have to fear for their life or well-being simply for who they are."
I am shocked by the heinous attack on innocent people in Oslo yesterday evening.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) June 25, 2022
No-one should have to fear for their life or well-being simply for who they are.
My heart reaches out to the families and friends of the victims.
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