OSLO, NORWAY (AP) - They gathered by the tens of thousands in the drenching rain to face down terrorism with song.
Drawn by a Facebook-organized protest, Norwegians flocked to public squares across the country Thursday and rallied against far-right fanatic Anders Behring Breivik, now on trial for a bomb-and-shooting rampage that killed 77 people.
They sang a Norwegian version of a Pete Seeger tune that the confessed mass killer claims has been used to brainwash the country’s youth into supporting immigration.
Defiant singalongs of “Children of the Rainbow” were staged in Oslo and other major Norwegian cities, even as the ninth day of the trial went on with survivors of Breivik’s attacks giving tearful testimony.
In downtown Oslo alone, about 40,000 people raised their voices as Norwegian artist Lillebjoern Nilsen played the song, a Norwegian version of Seeger’s “My Rainbow Race.”
They sang the Norwegian lyrics:
“A sky full of stars, blue sea as far as you can see
“An earth where flowers grow, can you wish for more?
“Together shall we live, every sister, brother
“Young children of the rainbow, a fertile land.”
Seeger’s lyrics in the original version have a similar message of living together in harmony.
In testimony last week, Breivik mentioned the tune as an example of how he believes “cultural Marxists” have infiltrated Norwegian schools and weakened its society.
The crowd later marched to the Oslo courthouse, where they laid a carpet of red and white roses on the steps and the fence.
Reached at home in Beacon, N.Y., the 92-year-old Seeger told The Associated Press he had heard about the mass gathering in a phone call from Nilsen.
“I said, ‘Oh that’s wonderful,’” Seeger said. “It’s a tremendous honor, really. One of the greatest honors a songwriter could have is to have a song of theirs sung in another country.”