Monday marks two years since right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik detonated two bombs in downtown Oslo before heading out to a gathering by youth members of the Norwegian left-wing political party Arbeiderpartiet on the island of Utøya. There, disguised as a police officer, he proceeded to gun down 69 unarmed youths, some as young as 14. In a horrifying fashion, Breivik killed a total of 77 people and injured a further 319 on a day that will forever live in infamy.
On the two-year anniversary of Breivik's actions, public broadcaster DR2 has decided to televise the controversial play 'Manifest 2083', which is based upon Breivik's 1,518-page manifesto, '2083: A European Declaration of Independence', a document that details his ideology and motives and at one point praises Denmark’s approach in the “ideological war” against Islam as “the only Scandinavian country with some spine left”.
The play premiered last October under heavy media scrutiny, attracting world-wide attention and criticism for placing more focus on the terrorist Breivik. The play received generally good reviews and took home the special jury award at the Reumert awards, Denmark’s most prestigious theatre honour.
Some relatives of Breivik’s victims were upset by the play receiving such a notable award and the timing of DR's airing of 'Manifest 2083' may also raise some objections.
But the head of DR2, Christoffer Guldbrandsen, pointed out that the play is only one part of the network's planned coverage of the horrors that occurred on 22 July 2011.
“We will have a special debate programme about the play, and documentaries about the attack,” he said. “It was our thought that it would be good to have an artistic take on what happened, alongside the more documentary elements.”
Guldbrandsen explained that the reason DR2 has decided to dedicate a day to commemorate the attacks is the fact that they are the worst example of extremism the Nordic countries have ever seen.
He claims that the feelings of survivors and relatives to the victims were taken into account in making the decision to air the play, but admits that none of them were contacted.
Guldbrandsen believes that it is important to discuss major events such as the Utøya massacre as it helps to work through the trauma. He added that he felt that the play in no way expresses sympathy for Breivik.
“I would be really surprised if anyone would come out of the play with increased feelings of sympathy for Breivik,” he said. “It is similar to arguing that every time we talk about the Second World War, we are giving Hitler a pat on the back.”
DR2 will air 'Manifest 2083' at 8:30pm on Monday.