A Norwegian anti-immigrant group has been roundly ridiculed after members apparently mistook a photograph of six empty bus seats posted on its Facebook page for a group of women wearing burqas.
“Tragic”, “terrifying” and “disgusting” were among the comments posted by members of the closed Fedrelandet viktigst, or “Fatherland first”, group beneath the photograph, according to screenshots on the Norwegian news website Nettavisen.
Other members of the 13,000-strong group, for people “who love Norway and appreciate what our ancestors fought for”, wondered whether the non-existent passengers might be carrying bombs or weapons beneath their clothes. “This looks really scary,” wrote one. “Should be banned. You can’t tell who’s underneath. Could be terrorists.”
Further comments read: “Ghastly. This should never happen,” “Islam is and always will be a curse,” “Get them out of our country – frightening times we are living in,” and: “I thought it would be like this in the year 2050, but it is happening NOW,” according to thelocal.no and other media.
The photograph, found on the internet, was posted “for a joke” last week by Johan Slåttavik, who has since described himself as “Norway’s worst web troll and proud of it”, beneath a question asking the group: “What do people think of this?”
Slåttavik told Nettavisen and Norway’s TV2 he wanted to “highlight the difference between legitimate criticism of immigration and blind racism”, and was “interested to see how people’s perceptions of an image are influenced by how others around them react. I ended up having a good laugh.”
It went viral in Norway after Sindre Beyer, a former Labour party MP who said he has been following Fatherland first for some time, published 23 pages of screenshots of the group’s outraged comments.
“What happens when a photo of some empty bus seats is posted to a disgusting Facebook group, and nearly everyone thinks they see a bunch of burqas?” he asked in a post shared more than 1,800 times.