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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“The price that we have to pay for democracy, openness and freedom of speech”

Norwegian journalist Rolleiv SOLHOLM on the climate in Norwegian society after the terrorist attacks
2 August, 2011 - 00:00

The Day discussed the recent events in Norway and the role of journalism in such extreme conditions with Rolleiv SOLHOLM, editor-in-chief of the Norway Post website. It should be noted that during our conversation, the Norwegian journalist has neither mentioned the name of Anders Brevik nor said he was a cri-minal or a terrorist.

The entire world including Ukraine was shocked by what happened in your country. Even now the question rises: why? While the unhealed diseases of post-Soviet countries are obvious, how could an open and free Norway come to the appearance of Brevik?

“In my opinion, no one can answer these questions. He has formed his own view of the world, which is different from the other people’s outlook. He believes that he did it for the sake of saving Europe and Norway from the Muslim absorption. He was hoping to build a country without democracy and justice, so I don’t think his appearance is some kind of an exceptional case. A person of that sort can be found everywhere. But, unfortunately, this time such figure has appeared in Norway. I don’t think mass media could prevent it somehow. He was using the social media to discuss the topics he wrote about, hoping they would find some response in society.”

What is your opinion on the court’s decision about the closed trial on Brevik?

“There are two reasons for the closed trial. First: the court was afraid that he might be in danger during the open trial. Second: they did not want to give him the tribune for expressing his views to a wide public.”

Of course, these days all the Norwegian media are focused on the information around the terrorist attacks. But it is a rather complicated story. What do you think, which ethical principles and norms should the journalists consider while covering anything connected with the acts of terror?

“As all other journalists, the Norwegian media have to supply people with information without misinterpretation. Though they shouldn’t touch upon the theories he developed.”

In your opinion, which lessons did the Norwegian society learn from this tragedy?

“I don’t think one can prevent such people from acting the way they want it. This is the price that we have to pay for democracy, openness and freedom of speech.”

Isn’t that too much of a price?

“No, I don’t think so. Otherwise we would have lived in a censorship society without freedom of speech. As our Prime Minister Stoltenberg said, we will answer these acts of terror with even more democracy and openness. You see how Norway reacted to these events. Everyone was carrying roses – this is our weapon against the cruel fanatics. About 2,500 people have gathered last night (the conversation took place on July 27) at the square in front of the Oslo City Hall. Similar meetings were held across all country – in cities and towns. People said: we will oppose to terrorism with unity and mutual support.”

By Ihor SAMOKYSH, The Day