Norway’s controversial justice minister on Wednesday withdrew a Facebook post that triggered outrage among survivors of the 2011 Utoya massacre and calls for a motion of no confidence against her in the parliament.
Sylvi Listhaug, a member of the populist and anti-immigration Progress Party (FrP), on Friday in a Facebook post accused the opposition Labour Party of considering that “the rights of terrorists are more important than the security of the nation”.
Listhaug, whose party is a member of a centre-right coalition, was criticising Labour over their rejection of a proposal aimed at stripping jihadists of their Norwegian citizenship without a court decision.
Embellished with a photo showing threatening Al-Shabab militants, the post sent shock waves as Labour members were in 2011 the victims of the worst attack on Norwegian soil since the end of WWII.
On July 22 that year, right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who once was a member of the FrP, killed 77 people in twin attacks: one targeting then Labour prime minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office in Oslo and another against a Labour youth camp on the island of Utoya.
Listhaug’s message coincided with the release of the first film in Norway devoted to the atrocities.
Labour leader Jonas Gahr Store accused the minister of stoking “the hatred that led to the July 22 (massacre)”.
Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg has been strongly criticised for her reluctance to scold Listhaug.
“It crossed a line, it was too tough of an attack on the Labour Party,” she said.
A far-left lawmaker has announced tabling a motion of no-confidence against Listhaug in a move that could put the minority government in a tricky situation as its centrist allies –who’ve always been critical of Listhaug– would have to make a difficult call.
Pressured to apologise, the justice minister on Tuesday posted another message on Facebook saying she did not mean or intend to hurt anyone.
She finally withdrew the controversial post, arguing that rights issues prohibited the use of the Al-Shabab photo for political purposes.