As It Happens

Mass murderer Anders Breivik accepted to University of Oslo political science program

Author of extreme right-wing manifesto will study pluralism and human rights.
(The Associated Press)

On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik shot 69 students dead at a summer camp in Norway. He killed eight more with a bomb planted in Oslo. Now, he wants to go back to school.

Breivik has been accepted to the University of Oslo, where he will study political science. The rector of the university, Ole Ottersen, tells As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch "we have rules and regulations...that don't differentiate between inmates and other students." 

Ottersen admits the decision was not easily reached, saying, "Many people are appalled at the very thought." He says it was a matter of principle.

"The appropriate response to his terrorism is to stick to the rules."

Breivik will not be permitted to leave his prison cell to attend courses, and all communication between Breivik and the university will be coordinated through a contact person in the prison.

Not all teachers at the university are comfortable with the arrangement. Some are refusing to take part in his education, and Ottersen says they will be accommodated: "We respect the personal conviction on the part of the educator."

Anders Behring Breivik is shown in an online document attributed to him that was discovered the day after the 2011 shooting and bomb attack in Norway. (Scanpix/Associated Press)

There are also many students at the university who are related to victims of Breivik. Ottersen admits that this has created a "lively debate," but he is proud that "many people, after having reacted on a very emotional basis to start with realize there are principles beneath these passions that we have to stick to."

Ottersen says just because the University of Oslo has admitted Breivik, "does not mean we are...devoid of vengeance and passion. But vengeance and passion should not force us to deviate from the rules we have in a civilized society." 

Anders Breivik released a 1500-page manifesto on the day of his attacks, in part claiming the attacks were necessary to stop the "Islamization" of Norway.

Ottersen sees an "irony" in Breivik's choice to study political science: "He will have to read about democracy, justice, pluralism and respect for individual human rights...he will have ample possibilities now to reflect on his atrocities."