A user posted a photo of empty bus seats to the Facebook group Fedrelandet viktigst (roughly translated as ‘Fatherland first’) with the question “what do people think about this?”
What they thought is apparently that they were seeing a bus full of burka-clad women and proof of the ‘Islamification’ of Norway.
Member after member sounded off on how “frightening”, “tragic” and “scary” the scene was. Others decried that such a thing could happen in Norway (it didn’t) and worried that the phantom passengers could have “weapons and bombs” under their garments (they didn't because, well, there were no passengers).
“It looks really scary, should be banned. You can never know who is under there. Could be terrorists with weapons,” one group user wrote.
“Get them out of our country, those who look like collapsed umbrellas. Frightening times we are living in,” wrote another.
“I thought it would be like this in the year 2050, but it is happening NOW!!!!” another alarmist chimed in.
The responses from the closed group went viral after Facebook user Sindre Beyer posted screenshots of people’s incredulous reactions.
“What happens when a photo of some empty bus seats is posted to a disgusting Facebook group and nearly everyone thinks they see a bunch of burkas?” he wrote in a post that was shared over 1,500 times and elicited widespread mockery of the Fedrelandet viktigst group.
“Just when I thought that nothing from that group could surprise me, they manage to actually surprise me,” a commenter wrote in response to Beyer’s post.
“I think I passed the test because the first thing I saw was a group of Darth Vaders,” cracked another.
“This is the best thing I’ve seen from blind racists since The Chappelle Show,” another user wrote in reference to the American comic’s infamous ’Clayton Bigsby’ skit.
“I can definitely see the humour in it but with that being said I’m left shaking my head over the fact that people could react like that; sad,” wrote another.
Beyer told Nettavisen that he has been following the group, which has nearly 13,000 members, for some time now.
“I’m shocked by how much hate and fake news is spread there. The hatred that was displayed toward some empty bus seats really shows how much prejudices trump wisdom,” he said.
“That’s why I shared the post so that more people can see what is happening in the dark corners of the web,” he added.
The head of the Norwegian Centre Against Racism (Antirasistisk senter) told Nettavisen that the irrational response to six empty bus seats just goes to show how quickly people jump to conclusions.
“People see what they want to see and what they want to see are dangerous Muslims. In a way it’s an interesting test of how quickly people can find confirmations of their own delusions,” Rune Berglund Steen said.
Steen said the photo portrays a scene hardly ever seen in Oslo, no matter how you look at it.
“The busses aren’t full of creepy Islamists and neither do they typically have so many empty seats,” he said.