In late July last year, Norwegians gathered spontaneously with flowers and songs, after Anders Breivik killed 77 people. Today, thousands sang out once again, after Breivik claimed in court that cherished local folk singer Lillebjørn Nilsen was a "self-declared Marxist" whose Norwegian version of a Pete Seeger song had "brainwashed" Norwegian school children into embracing a multi-cultural society.
The song in question is Barn av regnbuen (Children of the Rainbow based on the now-93-year-old Seeger's song My Rainbow Race;Nilsen wrote the song's Norwegian lyrics in 1973 and it was one of many songs performed when 100,000 Norwegians gathered on the plaza in front of Oslo City Hall after the July 22 attacks.
Should Breivik be able to say what he liked in the courtroom? Was there a peaceful way to challenge the "most hated man in Norway" without silencing him? Two Oslo women, Christine Bar and Lili Hjønnevåg found a way. They organised an impromptu songfest on the large square Youngstorget at noon today to sing Barn av regnbuen led by Lillebjørn Nilsen himself. Around 3,000 people said they'd show up on social media networks with similar songfests organised in Tromsø, Svolvær, Hamar, Drammen, Elverum and Kristiansand.
In the end 40,000 turned up to sing Children of the rainbow with Lille Bjørn Nilsen at Youngstorget. Listen and watch this for an inspiring example of Norwegian peaceful, united and creative resistance to the warped world of Anders Breivik. I suggest you skip through to 4 minutes in when the English language version begins with Norwegian again at the end. Overwhelmingly beautiful, simple and powerful. Watch here.