“This is our homeland, this is my homeland; I condemn these attacks and the Islamic Council of Norway condemns these attacks, whoever is behind them.”
- Mehtab Afsar, secretary general of the Islamic Council of Norway
"World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit was in Oslo today. With people around the world He prays with the people of Norway, his home country."
- Tweet from the World Council of Churches
Together all people of good faith condemn the terrorist attacks which took place in Norway today. Innocent lives were taken - a claim of responsibility that has yet to be confirmed has been made by a radical Islamic group according to The New York Times (and such early claims often prove to be false) - but those who carried out these attacks were not the legitimate representatives of any religion. Those responsible are war criminals who dishonored God by committing crimes against humanity. Let us continue to hold the people of Norway in our prayers this day as we continue to pray for peace and reconciliation across the globe.
Update 6:37 PM Pacific: In a sign of how quickly these stories change it is now being reported that a conservative Christian is the key suspect in the attacks.
Update 3:45 PM Pacific: The following press statement has just been issued by the World Council of Churches:
“Norway has today experienced an unprecedented and horrible level of violence against innocent people,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran pastor and general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Tveit, who is currently in Norway, had just left Oslo when he learned of the bombing of a government building that has left several injured and seven dead.
Norwegian authorities also say a gunman dressed as a police officer fired on youth attending a political camp on Utoya Island killing at least nine.
Late Friday evening Norwegian authorities were quoted as saying the bombing and shooting may be linked and that they had apprehended the shooter on the island.
“Attacking the core institutions of a democratic society and innocent youth gathered for a workshop to discuss political issues, leaves me shocked,” he said. “Being close to these events, I am deeply saddened, realizing that this has happened in my beloved country, with its people, its leaders, and its institutions.”
“In times like this the Norwegian people and government need the solidarity of the international society and the prayers of the world wide church,” he said. “Now we know the reality of so many others in the world were violence pierces the lives of the innocent.”
Tveit has asked the member churches of the WCC for their prayers and solidarity, saying “we pray that Norway might be able to stand together as an open, peace-loving country also in the future.”
“Let us all stay together for a world of justice and peace, without hate and revenge, but with the values of democracy, caring for the dignity and the human rights of every person,” he said. “We are all created in the image of God.”
Tveit said the worldwide fellowship of the WCC offers its prayers and condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and are victims of today’s violence, to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his fellow Norwegians.
Additional statements from religious leaders will be posted as they become available.