by Graham Pierrepoint
Amidst all the political division that is occurring throughout the world on a daily basis, occasionally the media picks out one or two stories that offer a glimpse of hope – that we are all, essentially, still human – while other stories offer more than a cheap laugh. As social media has evolved, so have the groups and platforms that use them – and Facebook has become a hotbed for political activism over the past few years, though the social network is obviously poised against hate speech. One such group – a private online gathering based in Norway – hit the headlines recently after a tongue-in-cheek and provocative photo gathered some fairly strong opinions from some of the group’s members.
The group in question is said to be anti-immigration – and one Facebook user decided to share an image of covered seats on a bus to see what the reaction would be. The concept of this is fairly bizarre – but the user seemed to get his wish, as the photo was met with angry reactions and debate – as many of the people viewing the photo had mistakenly assumed the bus seats to be Muslim women in full burqas. The man in question who shared the image, Johan Slattavik, stated that he was surprised that so many people had fallen for the prank.
Comments on the photo referred to the alleged scene – little more than a few seats on public transport – as ‘scary’ – as many angry commenters failed to look closer at the image to see the true focus of the photograph. Burqas, traditional wear for many Muslim women, have continued to be the focal point of much controversy, particularly in Europe. The full-body dress in particular has been decried as potentially dangerous by some parties as it assures a security risk – with France being the first country on the continent to ban the dress outright over six years ago. Other European nations have followed suit, and it appears Norway may be considering a similar move – though nothing has yet been set in stone.
Regardless of your political opinion, this event just goes to show, once again – that you should always take a close look at any pictures you see on the internet if they’re asking you to elicit a response – or you could end up in the local media ‘funny column’ by the day’s end. The bus seats – naturally - were unavailable for comment.