A photograph posted on Facebook seemingly showing a bus filled with women wearing burkas in Norway has been gaining worldwide attention. But, a closer look at the picture reveals that the burka-clad women are actually just 6 empty bus seats.
Johan Slattavik posted the image on Fedrelandet viktigst – 13,000-strong group -which translates as “Fatherland First” with the comment “What do people think of this?”
For many members of the group the image encapsulated the problems Norway was facing after an influx of Muslim immigrants in the past few years.
“Tragic”, “terrifying” and “disgusting” were among the comments posted by members. Other members 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.”
One Facebook user wrote: “Frightening times we are living in.”
The photograph, found on the internet, was posted “for a joke” last week by Slattavik, who has since described himself as “Norway’s worst web troll and proud of it”, said “I ended up having a good laugh”.
The post was widely shared and also received a range of sarcastic responses:
“I also mistook the chairs for women in burqas. Dangerous game for women in their burqas to stand still for a few seconds. They might end up in garbage/bin vans,” said one poster.
“I thought to myself… Well those are three great kids you’ve got there… That’s when hell broke lose,” commented another.
While another said: “Ugly and empty seats.”
One user pointed out how the whole story was as sad as it was funny: “I can definitely see the humor in it but with that being said I’m left shaking my head over the fact that people could react like that; sad.”
Slattavik said While speaking to the Washington post that the mockery has resulted in some angry reactions but he did not take them seriously. “I would say that has also been educational”.
“I have thought about the differences between legitimate criticism of immigration to Europe and blind racism and xenophobia. I wanted to look into these differences: something I think I have achieved by setting up this practical joke and watching the reactions.” he said.
Norway had 180,000 Muslims in 2010, a number that Pew expects to triple by 2050.
Last year, the Police Immigration Service (PIS) expelled 7,825 migrants from the Scandinavian country.