Labour municipal politician Khamshajiny Gunaratnam, a deputy spokesperson in the Oslo city council, spoke of her own experience receiving hateful messages.
“It is a huge problem. We have seen that it is often directed at young girls, and it is even worse if they are from a minority background,” Gunaratnam told NRK.
All parties in Oslo’s city council have given their backing to a joint statement against online harassment of the city’s politicians.
“We wish to send a clear signal to say that all politicians in the city council stand together strongly to fight online hate. We would like young people and many more women to join in. It is important to show that regardless of party, we are together on this,” the Progress Party’s Aina Stenersen told NRK.
Gunaratnam told the broadcaster she was the target of online hate after being named as a deputy spokesperson in the council in 2015.
“The day I became deputy spokesperson, the messages flooded in. But what is worse than being a politician subjected to online hate is that other people see us [being abused online, ed.] and think again about saying what they think. That is a huge problem for democracy,” she said.
Oslo Municipality filed a report with police earlier this year after environmental and urban planning committee leader Lan Marie Nguyen Berg received several threatening messages.
“It is important here that although we are speaking out against hateful messages against me or Lan for example, that does not mean you cannot disagree with us. You should be able to put forward your viewpoints in a constructive and civilised manner,” Gunaratnam said.
The Oslo Municipality campaign against online hate aimed at politicians is inspired in part by the #metoo movement, Stenersen told NRK.
“We have seen with the metoo campaign that harassment and sexually inappropriate behaviour destroys entire working environments. So it is good to know that we in the city council are standing together and supporting each other,” she said.