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Bus seat under my burqa: Norway anti-immigration group mocked for mistaking empty chairs for women wearing veils

A Norwegian anti-immigration group has been widely mocked on social media after one of their members mistook a photograph of empty bus seats for six Muslim women wearing burqas, according to media reports.

The image was shared to private Facebook group Fedrelandet viktigst — or "Fatherland First" in Norwegian —  which has over 13,000 members, according to Independent. It sparked a furious debate among its members after it appeared to show the seats occupied by women wearing burqas, the report said.

"What do people think about this?" the image was captioned.

Instantly, the post drew sharp comments, including some asking for a ban on burqas.

"It looks really scary, should be banned," one user commented, according to SF Gate. "You can never know who is under there. Could be terrorists with weapons."

The optical illusion-turned-xenophobia-test went viral when Facebook user Sindre Beyer posted screenshots from the group on his public page. Here, users mocked the anti-immigration group, describing the scene as “scary”, “frightening” and “tragic”.

'A little practical joke'

Some users reacted to the picture with comments like 'scary' and 'frightening'. Facebook

Some users reacted to the picture with comments like 'scary' and 'frightening'. Facebook

Independent reported that Johan Slattavik, the user who initially posted the photographs to Fedrelandet viktigst, said it was just "a little practical joke" to see how people would react, and was actually a photograph of bus seats.

He said, “I laid out the photo to see what happens,” he said, adding that he was shocked so many people fell for it, The Washington Post reported.

“I ended up having a good laugh,” Slattavik said.

The mockery of the group has resulted in some angry reactions, Slattavik said, but he did not take them seriously, according to The Washington Post. “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.”

The burqa debate

In June, Norway proposed a ban on burqas in kindergartens, schools and universities, thus becoming the latest European nation to propose restrictions on wearing burqas and niqabs.

Burqas have become a flashpoint for debates in Europe over integration, extremism and freedom of religion in recent years, with France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria all imposing restrictions on wearing them in public places.

Partial or regional prohibitions are now in place in Italy, Spain, Denmark and Switzerland. The German, Austrian and Dutch Parliaments have voted in support of a partial ban on burqas but no laws have been enforced.

Updated Date: Aug 02, 2017 10:56 AM

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