A Norwegian anti-immigration group has been mocked for mistaking a photograph of empty seats on a bus for a group of Muslim women wearing burqas.
An image shared the page of Facebook group Fedrelandet viktigst (Fatherland first) sparked angry online debate among its members after it appeared to show the seats occupied by women wearing body-covering robes and full-face veil.
The photo captioned “What do people think of this?” was posted as a prank, but prompted more than 100 alarmed comments on the members-only page.
“It looks really scary, should be banned. You can never know who is under there. Could be terrorists with weapons,” one user wrote, according to a translation from Norwegian English language site the Local. Others described it as “frightening” and “tragic.”
“Get them out of our country, those who look like collapsed umbrellas. Frightening times we are living in,” another member posted.
“I thought it would be like this in the year 2050, but it is happening NOW!!!!” another added.
The responses from the closed group went viral after Facebook user Sindre Beyer posted screenshots of the reactions.
Hva skjer når det legges ut et bilde av noen tomme busseter på en brungrumsete gruppe på Facebook og nesten alle tror de ser en gjeng med burka ?😳
Johan Slattavik, the user who initially posted the photographs to Fedrelandet viktigst, told The Washington Post in a Facebook message that he had been bored one night so he decided to play “a little practical joke.”
Mr Slattavik told the Post he was curious to see how people would react.
“I laid out the photo to see what happened,” he was quoted as saying, adding he was shocked that so many people fell for it.
Norway’s right-wing government proposed a curb on people wearing burqas earlier this year.
France instituted a nationwide burqa ban in 2011 followed by Belgium and Bulgaria, while Italy, Spain, Denmark and Switzerland have also instituted partial or regional prohibitions of the Muslim body covering.
– With agencies