Tor Mikkel Wara, who took over as Norway’s justice minister just last spring, is unsure why someone would deface his home and car with a swastika and the word racist. He claims it won’t influence how he works as one of the country’s top politicians.
“We won’t give in to these types of threats,” Wara told state broadcaster NRK Friday in his first comments on the vandalism that police consider a serious threat. Asked whether it will have any effect on his work, he answered with an emphatic “no!”
He stressed to reporters gathered outside the Office of the Prime Minister that he viewed the vandalism he woke up to Thursday morning “first and foremost as “an attack on the Norwegian democracy. I’m doing a job on behalf of the government and democracy.” Asked if he’d been threatened over time, he didn’t answer directly, saying only that “it has come to a point where it is very uncomfortable. It’s sad to be subjected to this because you agreed to take on a political position.”
Newspaper Aftenposten noted Friday how Wara’s home had been featured in a radical theater performance called Ways of seeing, which premiered at the alternative Black Box Theater in Oslo. It also pictured the homes of high-profile personalities in the Conservative and Progress Parties, NATO and some people connected to the conservative website Resett. As video of the homes played in the background, actors in the foreground described how they’d spent months secretly observing the people living in the homes and filming them.
It bothered Wara’s partner Laila Anita Bertheussen enough that she wrote a commentary in newspaper VG about how she felt about people observing and filming her home. She described them as “intruders,” and added that if she’d known they were out there, “I would of course have had them removed.” The filming also raises security issues, as does the vandalism that occurred this week. Wara already has body guards but officials won’t discuss what sort of security there is around the homes of government ministers. Only the prime minister lives in an official residence with round-the-clock security.
Anne-Cécile Sibué-Birkeland, theater chief at Black Box, distanced herself from the vandalism carried out at Wara’s and Bertheussen’s home. “I of course hope that there’s no connection between the play and the actions against Wara,” Sibué-Birkeland told NRK. “It’s a serious case and I’m shocked. All forms of violence must be condemned. If violence increases in a society, it’s an expression that democracy has let people down.”
She said she stood behind the performance and will have to be responsible for any consequences of it. “That’s the risk we take,” she said, adding that as of Friday, she had not been questioned by police.