Norway’s Minister of Justice and Emergency Situations, Emilie Enger Mehl (29), has received criticism from several quarters in the last year, after she was installed as a minister following the last election in October last year.
Among other things, the 29-year-old received strong criticism when she took part in the reality show “Kompani Lauritzen” in the New Year, just a few months after she was appointed as a minister in the Støre government.
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Then there were several people who reacted that the minister participated in a program that “plays war”, especially at the same time as Ukraine was invaded by Russia. However, the program was recorded before the invasion, but still there were several people who thought it was inappropriate for a minister to be part of a prime-time entertainment programme.
In addition, the minister of justice and emergency preparedness was widely discussed when she was pictured on a paddleboard without a life jacket, while in the last week she has received strong criticism on TikTok.
The 29-year-old has recently become active on social media, where she has, among other things, shared “mini vlogs” from a business trip to The Hague in the Netherlands.
Focuses on other things
However, Mehl can tell Nettavisen that she tries not to get too close to the criticism that comes her way.
– I try to put it away and not put so much energy into it. It’s easy to get carried away by that kind of noise, and I don’t really have time for that, she said when Nettavisen met her in connection with the premiere of the VGTV program “Ikke lov å le på hytta” on Thursday evening.
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Instead, she focuses on work.
– It is important that I can focus on doing a good job as Minister of Justice, says the 29-year-old, adding that she often takes the comments with a grain of salt and rather sees the humor in some of what comes at her.
In particular, she didn’t care much about the life jacket incident.
– I have to pull on the smile sometimes, when it drags as far as it did back then, says Mehl.
– Several had a sense of humor
It was this summer that Hamar Arbeiderblad published a story about the bikini-clad Minister of Justice and Emergency Services after she shared a photo of herself on Instagram on a paddle board without a life jacket.
“Here the Minister of Justice is breaking Norwegian law”read the title.
The case was followed up by Dagbladet the following day under the original title: “Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl: Brukte nicht vest”.
The 29-year-old makes no secret of the fact that she thinks the West criticism was dragged on longer than necessary, but stresses that she got the impression that it was a matter that several people had a sense of humor about, including her colleagues in the office.
– I got a life jacket as a birthday present from those at my job, and it was a lot of fun, she says with a laugh.
– Hope it can contribute to something
As mentioned, the minister also heard it when earlier this year she participated in “Kompani Lauritzen”, then especially because of the situation in Ukraine.
She points out now, as then, that no one could predict what would happen when the program was recorded.
– There is no minister that I know of who has been in a reality series, and that I ended up being in it at the same time as it was going to be on the screen, I could not have known that, she says to Nettavisen.
Following the premiere, the TV channel chose to emphasize at the beginning of each program that the recording took place before Mehl became minister in the form of a text poster. It was a choice on TV 2’s part.
Now, a few months after the storm of criticism, Mehl hopes that the discussion surrounding her participation can contribute to more openness and critical questions in the future.
– There was a war in Ukraine that broke out at the same time, and it was very decisive. That people dared to question it, I hope can contribute to something, she says.
These days, it is Mehl’s TikTok presence that has been a big talking point. There she has so far shared videos and moments from work trips, and in total she has received close to 400,000 views on her profile.
Shortly after the TikTok debut, several people expressed dissatisfaction that the minister has a profile on the platform. The social platform is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance in Beijing, and is probably under the strong control of the Chinese Communist Party.
One of those who have reacted is Unge Venstre leader Ane Breivik. Breivik fears that Mehl’s sharing of information is going straight into the hands of the Chinese authorities.
Last week, Mehl responded to the criticism by elaborating that she herself manages all her accounts on social media, and that she generally takes precautions around the use of digital tools such as PCs, mobile phones and tablets.
– It is important for me to be genuine and honest in my contact with people. I am happy to contribute to making Norwegian politics open and accessible to people. If I can give insight into what it means to be a minister, it is a bonus in my everyday life, Mehl wrote in an e-mail to Kom24, which discussed the matter first.