A "little practical joke" morphed into a teachable moment after Norwegian regular guy Johan Slattavik posted a photo of empty bus seats - which looked oddly like women in burqas - to the right-wing, anti-immigrant Facebook group Fedrelandet viktigst ("Fatherland First") and asked “What do people think about this?” The question and purported image struck at the current, sometimes ugly debate across Europe about the rising number of Muslim immigrants; in Norway, their presence has become controversial enough the country's right-wing government has proposed a law to ban women's veils - both the burqa and more severe niqab - making it the first Scandinavian country to do so.
In response to the inflammatory sight of all those bus seats, hundreds of horrified white nationalists swiftly took the bait. "It looks really scary, should be banned," wrote one. "You can never know who is under there." "Frightening times we are living in,” said another, who insisted "those who look like collapsed umbrellas" need to leave the country. Also, "I thought it would be like this in the year 2050, but it is happening NOW!!!!” Slattavik was aghast: "The hatred that was displayed toward some empty bus seats really shows how much prejudices trump wisdom.” The head of the Norwegian Center Against Racism likewise cited the speed at which "people can find confirmations of their own delusions." "People see what they want to see," he said. "And what they want to see are dangerous Muslims."