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Norwegian prime minister defiantly calls for more openness

OSLO, Norway — Five days after an attacker incensed by Norway's culture of tolerance horrified the world, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday issued a quiet call of defiance to his countrymen: Make Norway even more open and accepting.

"The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation," Stoltenberg insisted at a news conference.

Stoltenberg strongly defended the right to speak freely — even if it includes extremist views such as those held by Anders Behring Breivik, 32, the Norwegian who confessed to the attacks and claimed they were necessary to fight what he called Muslim colonization and multiculturalism.

"We have to be very clear to distinguish between extreme views, opinions — that's completely legal, legitimate to have. What is not legitimate is to try to implement those extreme views by using violence," he said in English.

The prime minister, perhaps mindful of many Norwegians' reserved ways, urged the country to fully grieve: "I have cried, and I have told many people that they should not hesitate to cry."

Victims identified: The identities of only 17 of the 68 known to have been killed have been officially confirmed. One those named Wednesday was the youngest-known victim so far — camper Sharidyn Svebakk-Boehn, who turned 14 five days before the rampage. An employee of Stoltenberg's office, Anne Lise Holter, 51, was confirmed as one of the eight dead in the bomb blast. A stepbrother of Crown Princess Mette-Matrit, police Officer Trond Berntsen, 51, was confirmed as one of those killed on the island, where he was providing security.

'Normal' arrest: Police gave an eerie account of the end of the siege, when the man who had committed slaughter for more than an hour obediently gave up the moment police approached him, holding his hands over his head. "It was a completely normal arrest," said Officer Haavard Gaasbakk.

Knights Templar link denied: Paul Ray, a right-wing British blogger linked to the Norway gunman, has confirmed the existence of an anti-Muslim group inspired by ancient crusaders. But Ray denied Breivik belonged to his Knights Templar group and said he had never heard of the Norwegian before the attacks. Ray, author of the blog "Lionheart," lives in Malta and said he was not at a 2002 meeting in London that Breivik claims gave birth to a group called the Knights Templar of Europe.

Norwegian prime minister defiantly calls for more openness 07/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 28, 2011 12:16am]
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