The Norwegian anti-immigrant group Fedrelandet viktigst (“Fatherland First”) is being roundly mocked by the Internet after some of its 13,000 members apparently mistook a photograph of six empty bus seats for six women wearing burqas, calling them “tragic,” “terrifying,” and “disgusting.” In other words, those group members are probably feeling an emotion they have little experience with: shame.
The Guardian reported on Wednesday that once the picture was posted to Fatherland First’s Facebook page last week, members freaked the fuck out, suggesting the the passengers they thought they saw were carrying bombs they thought they couldn’t see. One commenter wrote, “This looks really scary. Should be banned. You can’t tell who’s underneath. Could be a terrorist.” Or a bus seat. Depends on how blinded by xenophobia you are, I guess.
“Ghastly,” another commentator wrote. “This should never happen.” And another: “Get them out of our country—frightening times we are living yes.”
The photograph was reportedly posted by a Norwegian web troll by the name of Johan Slattavik, who asked the group, “What do people think of this?” then watched them implode. Slattavik told the Washington Post on Tuesday that his post had been a practical joke, “I laid out the photo to see what happened.”
Due to the flagrant, predictable stupidity of the group’s reaction, and because a former Labour party MP published 23 screenshots worth of comments over the weekend, the Facebook post quickly went viral in Norway.
Norway is one of many European countries—including France, the Netherlands, and Belgium—whose government has proposed restrictions on wearing the burqa and niqab. The Associated Press reported earlier this summer that Norway’s government will vote in September on whether to pass a proposed face veil ban that would apply to universities and schools.