Burqas or bus seats? How a photo caused an internet stir

Photo of bus seats which some people are assuming look like women in Burqas Image copyright UNKNOWN
Image caption What do you see?

A photograph showing an empty bus in Norway has been gaining worldwide attention.

The picture which sparked debate was originally posted on a private Norwegian anti-immigration group's Facebook page, but has since been shared elsewhere.

Johan Slattavik posted the image on Fedrelandet viktigst which translates as "Fatherland First" with the comment "What do people think of this?"

The response from within the group included a range of sarcastic posts:

"I also mistook the chairs for women in burqas. Dangerous game for women in their burqas to stand still for a few seconds. They might end up in garbage/bin vans," said one poster.

"I thought to myself... Well those are three great kids you've got there... That's when hell broke lose," commented another.

While a third lamented: "Poor women. They are slaves."

Mr Slattavik, has not responded to the BBC's request for an interview, but has told the Washington Post he posted the image as he was bored and wanted to see how people would react to the photo.

The image gained even more attention after it was shared by Sindre Beyer.

Image copyright Sindre Beyer/Facebook

Mr Beyer, who works for an advertising agency, spotted the photo after gaining access to the closed group: "I went under cover for a few months and managed to join the Facebook group - it was very easy.

"When I saw this photo I saw it as an opportunity to expose this type of content and reaction," Mr Beyer told the BBC.

"At first I think Mr Slattavik posted the photo as a joke, but after it became public, the group was unhappy that they were being ridiculed on social media for mistaking empty bus seats for women wearing burqas."

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Mr Slattavik even commented on Mr Beyer's post, saying he never thought his joke "would take off" and claimed it showed the difference between "legitimate immigration criticism and blind racism".

Speaking about having an insider's view of the group, Mr Beyer said: "It was kind of disturbing. They also feature a lot of fake news stories."

As the story spread outside of the group, many took to Twitter to share their views.

In Germany, one person noted: "The far-right see a threat to the nation in bus seats," and in Italy another saw the irony: "Invasion of women in burqas but they are only bus seats".

Some even tried to lighten the mood. In Canada, a haiku reads: "Bloom of a bombshell: Burqas on the busy bus? Bungled brouhaha". While in Australia, a "Howdy to the bus seats" came from @HowdytotheHijab.

However, not everyone in the closed group made the mistake and were cynical about why the photo had been posted:

"I think it was Sindre Beyer. He should have been thrown out of the group. Sharing with newspapers is reason enough," said one.

While another said: "Ugly and empty seats."

Written by the UGC and Social News team

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