Prime Minister Erna Solberg wasn’t the only one expressing strong support for her justice minister over the weekend, after Tor Mikkel Wara’s home and family were subjected to yet another threat. Politicians from left to right were condemning the latest incident as a threat to democracy itself.
“The sum of all these attacks makes those targeted anxious, but also many other politicians and their families, over the kind of climate we now have in Norway,” Solberg told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Sunday.
“But first and foremost I feel really sorry for Tor Mikkel’s family,” Solberg said.
Her remarks came after a car belonging to Wara’s family was set ablaze late Saturday night while parked outside the family’s home in Oslo. It was the fifth in a series of direct attacks on Wara’s home since late last year that have included tagging, vandalism, suspicious fires and, most recently, a threatening letter left in Wara’s mailbox.
“These types of incidents are a threat against our open and democratic society,” Solberg said. “Politicians must be able to take on roles on behalf of the public without fear.”
Mum on security measures
Even though Wara’s home has periodically been under police protection since the incidents began, NRK reported that police were not at the scene when a Wara family car began to burn late Saturday night. Passersby called police and the fire was quickly extinguished. Patrol cars were parked outside the home most of Sunday.
Neither police nor their intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) would reveal what sorts of security measures have been taken around Wara, saying only that they’re investigating links among the various incidents.
Others are baffled over why Wara has been singled out among Solberg’s government ministers. He only joined the government last spring and is considered to be one of the conservative Progress Party’s more moderate politicians, unlike those who have stirred up controversy on sensitive subjects such as immigration and asylum.
Wara had even left politics for many years, and became a successful public relations executive until Solberg called on him to take over the justice ministry after another much more controversial Progress Party politician, Sylvi Listhaug, had been forced to resign.
Bipartisan support for the minister
Other politicans who generally have little regard for the Progress Party were rallying to the party’s and Wara’s support Sunday evening. Knut Arild Hareide, former leader of the Christian Democrats who’s still a Member of Parliament, called Wara “a highly respected politician” who answered the call when Solberg and Progress Party leader Siv Jensen asked him to become justice minister.
“Today we woke up to the news that the justice minister’s car had been set on fire during the night,” Hareide wrote on social media. “This is an attack on our values and our democracy.”
Trine Skei Grande, leader of the Liberal Party, said the same, while even the leader of the opposition Socialist Left party, Audun Lysbakken, and the Labour Party’s vice mayor in Oslo issued their support, along with sympathy for Wara and his family.
“I don’t know who’s doing this, but what a poor representative they are for their cause,” Kamzy Gunaratnam stated. “No one should have to experience this in our city. Tor Mikkel Wara, warm thoughts to you and family.”