Norwegian Massacre Exhibition Opens Despite Fears It Will Be 'Hall of Fame' To Terrorist

Anders Breivik Exhibition
The remaining parts of the vehicle used by mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik are displayed at the 22 July Centre in the government quarter in Oslo, Norway, July 21, 2015. A planned exhibition about the killings of 77 people in 2011 is angering some Norwegians, who fear it will turn into a "hall of fame" for Breivik. Fredrik Varfjell/NTB Scanpix/Reuters

The opening of an exhibition in Norway which includes items used by the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik in his killing spree has prompted outrage from some of his victims' families, who fear the exhibition will become a "hall of fame" to the right-wing extremist.

The 2011 attack, which occurred four years ago to the day on Wednesday, left 77 dead and over 100 injured. It was the worst peacetime atrocity in Norway's history.

The exhibition, set up by the government, opened yesterday in the government building in central Oslo where Breivik killed his first eight victims after detonating a powerful bomb. After the bomb went off, Breivik travelled to Utøya island outside Oslo where he shot dead 69 people, most of them teenagers attending a summer camp run by the Labour Party. He subsequently defended his attacks as a warning of a "Muslim invasion" of Europe.

The exhibition includes his fake police identity card and the remains of the van in which he planted the bomb, along with a comprehensive collection of photos, excerpts from surveillance videos in the government centre, and filmed interviews with witnesses.

"It's regrettable that the attacker is getting the attention he always sought," Tor Oestboe, whose wife was among those killed in Oslo, told Reuters, adding his concerns that the exhibition would become a "hall of fame" for the mass murderer.

His views were echoed by the political historian Oeystein Soerensen, who argued in Norway's Dagbladet newspaper last week that the exhibition could become "a kind of twisted Mecca" for right-wing extremists.

John Christian Elden, a lawyer for some of the survivors of the attack, also voiced his objections, arguing that Osama bin Laden's possessions would not be displayed at the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York. He wrote on Twitter: "A Breivik museum in the government complex? No thank you. Send the goods to the National Museum of Justice in Trondheim instead."

However, the exhibition has been defended by others, including some of the victims' families, who say it will help Norway come to terms with its past.

"The information centre should spread knowledge in order to prevent hatred, violence and terrorism," the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, said at the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was prime minister of Norway at the time of the massacre and attended commemoration ceremonies held on Wednesday. "July 22 is a dramatic event in the history of Norway. It cannot be hushed up, but must be treated with the dignity and respect that such a brutal incident must be dealt with," he said, according to the BBC.

Breivik, 36, is serving a 21-year prison sentence in solitary confinement, although this could be extended if he is still deemed a threat. Earlier this month it was reported that Breivik had won a place to study political science at Oslo university, although he will have no contact with staff or students as he will study from his cell in prison.

A study published also on Wednesday revealed that more than half of the parents of the victims of Breivik are still too traumatised to return to full-time work. Six out of 10 still struggle with intense grief, and two out of three still have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Scandinavian Psychologist.