Iceland is in Shock over Norwegian Massacre Skip to content

Iceland is in Shock over Norwegian Massacre

By Iceland Review

When news came in on Friday afternoon about an explosion in Oslo, Norway, most people in Iceland first asked: Was it a bomb, or was it some other type of explosion? A bomb in Norway sounded unlikely. Who would attack friendly and peaceful Norway? Some recalled the support of Norway for the fighting against tyranny in Libya and Afghanistan. Still, it seemed unlikely that someone would attack Norway.

Then as more news came in about the explosion, some very sketchy accounts of an attack at Utoya an island close to Oslo. The impact didn’t sink in until the evening news when it seemed that seven people had died in a bomb explosion in Oslo. As many as nine or ten had been killed by a gunman on the island.

Many Icelanders have access to three Norwegian TV channels. All three had continous coverage of the atrocities. A grim Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, told the nation that even though the events were frightening, terror must not set in. The events were in some ways closer to Stoltenberg than others because the bomb in Oslo had been placed outside his office and he was to address the youth camp held by his Labor Party on the island on Saturday.

One of his predecessors as Prime Ministers and Social Democratic leader, Gro Harlem Brundtland, had addressed the group a short while before the shooting started. On the internet, the supposed attacker had called Mrs. Brundtland Nation’s murderer (Landsmorder), a word play on the affectionate title of Nation’s mother (Landsmoder) often used for Mrs. Brundtland.

Norway is one of the countries closest to Iceland, both geographically and emotionally. Iceland was settled by Norwegians in the ninth century, and for 550 years shared the same king, from 1262 to 1814. Many Icelanders work in Norway and more people have moved to Norway than any other nation after the economic downfall of Iceland in 2008. Just in the second quarter of 2011, 380 people moved from Iceland to Norway, most to work or look for a job. Hence, many Icelandic families feared for the lives of their friends or relatives while the news was trickling in.


At this point it is not known that any Icelanders were among the dead or missing.

As the Icelandic nation is waking up this morning it turns out that the news is even worse than anyone imagined yesterday. The death toll is inching closer to a hundred killed and many wounded. The horror stories are coming out. Not only is it that a friendly nation has been dealt a wound that will take years to heal; Norway is like an extension of Iceland. Something like this was as unthinkable in Norway as it seems to be in Iceland.

Or seemed to be.

The Prime Minister of Iceland and the Bishop of Iceland have sent official condolences. All Icelanders are feeling deeply sad for a fellow Nordic country, a nation that is both a close public and personal friend to Iceland.

Benedikt Jóhannesson, publisher Iceland Review

[email protected]

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!