Young Norwegians are mourning the death of Ismail Haji Ahmed, a 19-year-old Somali native who was one of 69 young people killed at the July 22nd lakeside massacre at Utoya. Two brothers survived the attack but Ismail did not.
The talented dancer with intense blue eyes was better known as Isma Brown. The "flamboyant" teen appeared on "Norway's Got Talent" and "wore Lady Gaga-inspired outfits", writes the New York Times in a moving obituary.
A tall, spidery 19-year-old, with almond-brown skin and an ever-changing hairdo, Mr. Ahmed injected a flamboyance into this staid Nordic city that was clearly missing on a recent visit.
In a city where ethnic Norwegians and immigrants have only started to become cohesive, Mr. Ahmed, a native of Somalia, would stroll down the streets in Lady Gaga-inspired outfits of his own making, holding impromptu public dance parties with his friends from Norway, Somalia, Bosnia and elsewhere.
“He never touched alcohol, never girls — he just danced,” said Woria Ali Ahmad, another friend. “There is no way to start to describe him. He is too special.”
Mr. Ahmad, 21, was with his friend to the last, he said. Both ran to the water when the shooting started, but the gunman, identified by the police as Anders Behring Breivik, tracked them down. Standing on the bank above them, he sprayed bullets in their direction, killing several girls trying to hide nearby. Both men played dead on the rocky shore, but in Mr. Ahmed’s case the killer did not believe the ruse.
“He aimed and shot him in the head,” said Mr. Ahmad, who went unnoticed behind some rocks. “He died, and I didn’t do anything. I feel guilty.”
Ahmed came to Norway with his family in 2002 at age 10. Ismail eased the racial tensions he encountered through dancing. After his appearances on television, the slain teen was described as a "local celebrity" in his hometown of Hamar, about 80 miles north of Oslo.