Per Sandberg, the deputy leader of Norway's Progress Party, wore the T-shirt as he led a resolution at the party's annual conference on Sunday which voted to block a Labour party proposal to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Jonas Spildrejordet, a spokesman for Norway’s opposition Labour Party, described the T-shirt as “beyond distasteful” in a tweet on Monday.
"Per Sandberg has said and done a lot of things. Some careless, some thoughtless, some stupid," he added in a later tweet. "But this shirt thing is simply nauseatingly nasty."
Sandberg normally revels in his status as a loose cannon in the anti-immigrant wing of the party. But when he was approached by Norway’s Dagens Næringsliv newspaper over the T-Shirt, he claimed that any connection to the subject of the vote was a ‘coincidence’.
“My message comes from what I say, not from a random T-shirt that is the first thing I picked out of my wardrobe,” he told the paper.
Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council was diplomatic, telling VG newspaper that he did not want to "comment on clothing or any open or hidden signals”.
Kjell Lars Berge, professor of Norwegian language at the University of Oslo, was in no doubt that the politician was trying to send a message.
"There is certainly no lower limit," he told Norway's Dagbladet newspaper. "This is a little rough, when there are people dying at sea."
Emil André Erstad, leader of the Christian Democrats youth party, scoffed at the idea that the T-shirt was accidental, posting a collection of photos of Sandberg on Twitter to demonstrate that he has seldom if ever been seen wearing a T-shirt to a party event.
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By Monday afternoon Per Sandberg was the third most trending topic on Norwegian Twitter as people criticised, ridiculed or defended him.
Many commentators tried to mock Sandberg for what looks like a tasteless attention-seeking gesture.
"Thousands of refugees drowned in the Mediterranean and all I got was this T-shirt. Good Luck with that, Per Sandberg," tweeted Bergen comedian André Ulveseter.