When you traffic in paranoia and delusion, your perception of reality becomes easily warped.
The Facebook page of Fedrelandet viktigst, or “Fatherland first” was ablaze with comments over a photo that struck at the heart of their fears — the growing influx of Muslims into their country. The sight of a group of fully-covered, burqa-wearing women generated such comments as “Get them out of our country – frightening times we are living in” and “Should be banned. You can’t tell who’s underneath. Could be terrorists.”
Well, one of Islamophobia’s symptoms must be hallucination. In the scores of comments among this group, the overwhelming majority ignored a simple reality. They were not looking a people in burqas — it was a picture of empty bus seats.
The picture was posted by Johan Slåttavik, who says he did it as a joke. According to Slåttavik, he was “interested to see how people’s perceptions of an image are influenced by how others around them react. I ended up having a good laugh.”
Now, thousands of shares and comments later, the group is being roundly mocked on the internet. For example, former British MP Sindre Beyer published 23 pages of the group’s comments on this photo via his Facebook page, with a caption that read “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 burqas?”
In the backdrop of this story is a law being proposed in Norway that would place restrictions on the wearing of burqas and niqabs.