Norwegians Sing To Defy Mass Murderer

Some 40,000 people gathered on the streets of Oslo on Thursday to sing a Norwegian nursery rhyme that mass murderer Anders Breivik says he hates. Breivik is on trial in connection with his slaughter of 77 people last summer in Norway.

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There is not a lot to sing about in Norway these days. The right-wing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik has been unrepentant during his trial for killing 77 people. But today, the people of Norway were singing a children's song. And as NPR's Philip Reeves reports, they sang it for Breivik.


PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Breivik hates this song. That's exactly why these people are singing it. There's a huge crowd - 40,000, say the police. They've gathered in the rain in the capital, Oslo. Old and young are holding roses and Norwegian flags, singing together, crying together under their umbrellas.


REEVES: The song's called "Children Of The Rainbow." The other day, Breivik declared this song was being used in Norway's schools to brainwash kids. He thinks it's part of a Marxist plot to make Norwegians weak, to make them welcome Muslim immigrants into their midst. Just look at the chorus - together we will live, each sister and each brother, it says.


REEVES: That chorus echoed across Norway today. Big crowds gathered to sing it in towns and cities across the land, summoned there by a Facebook campaign to fight Breivik's terrible brutality not with anger, but with music.

The song's by Lillebjorn Nilsen. He adapted it from a Pete Seeger number. Nilsen's a much-loved, bearded folk singer - kind of Norway's Willie Nelson. We're winning, Nilsen reportedly shouted as he led the singing in Oslo. Then, the crowd walked to the courthouse. Inside sat Breivik, stony-faced, without remorse.

The crowd arrived around the same time as Breivik was listening to survivors of his rampage describe their sufferings. A man told how his face was ripped loose from his head by a bomb Breivik detonated. Outside, the crowd added their roses to the piles of flowers in memory of Breivik's victims, and they carried on singing. Philip Reeves, NPR News.


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