Up to 40,000 Norwegians gathered in Oslo yesterday to sing a peace song derided by Anders Behring Breivik, the gunman on trial for the murder of 77 people, a protest organisers said showed he had not broken their tolerant society.
"It's we who win," said the folk singer Lillebjorn Nilsen as he led the singing and watched the crowd sway gently in the rain, some weeping.
The musical protest came on the same day that survivors of Breivik's two attacks last July began to give testimony at his trial. They included a young woman who survived his bombing of government offices in Oslo against all the odds.
The crowd sang "Children of the Rainbow", which extols the type of multicultural society Breivik has said he despised. He has often used chillingly graphic language to describe his killing spree, but it seems to have taken his comments about the song to touch a nerve in a country that prides itself on a tradition of tolerance and justice.
In days of testimony, Breivik admitted killing his victims but denied criminal guilt, saying he did so in defence of Norwegian ethnic purity.
Peter Solberg, a 46-year-old office worker in the crowd, said: "I care about the people who died and whose family members died. This march is about them and about our Norway, not his [Breivik's] Norway."
Some of the crowd marched to the district courthouse where Breivik is on trial, close to the site where he set off a bomb that killed eight people. Most left roses, a symbol of the ruling Labour Party, outside the courthouse.
Breivik, 33, has called his victims "traitors" for embracing left-wing values which, in his view, opened Europe to a slow-motion Muslim invasion. He has said he felt he had no choice but to strike back with the bomb attack in Oslo and a gun massacre at a Labour Party summer camp that left 69 dead.Reuse content