Norway’s largest website, tied to major tabloid newspaper VG, reported its toughest week ever last week in terms of having to block scores of racist comments from so-called “Internet trolls.” They accused Hadia Tajik, a former government minister for the Labour Party who’s now a Member of Parliament, of being a “traitor” who should be “sent back to Africa” for having dared suggest that Norway’s monarchy should be abolished in favour of a making the country a republic.
The abusive and racist remarks were mostly attached to a VG story last week in which it reported that Tajik and more than 80 percent of young Labour Party MPs favour a republic over the current monarchy that was established in 1905.
“We have never had to delete so many comments in a single day as we did today,” Øyvind Solstad, who’s responsible for social media in VG, wrote on his own Facebook page on Friday. He later told the national journalists’ union’s website that between 50 and 100 people were literally thrown out of VG‘s comments sections. Those considered to be the worst offenders were permanently banned.
Tajik, a lawyer and politician who was born in Norway to parents who had emigrated from Pakistan, currently serves as a deputy leader of the Labour Party. She was Norway’s government minister in charge of cultural issues during the former left-center government headed by Jens Stoltenberg, who now serves as secretary general of NATO.
Tajik attracted the racist abuse “only because she’s a young, female Muslim,” Solstad told the journalist’s union’s professional online journal Journalisten.no. He clarified that no one can send Tajik out of the country, and the sheer proposition was “lowly” in all possible ways.
Among the comments sent to VG: “Send Tajik back to Africa,” “Get rid of this pig who isn’t even Norwegian,” “Goddam foreigner, (King) Harald is boss. She should be hung in a public place.” Solstad said some of the other commenters suggested Tajik should be subjected to rape or other forms of physical violence.
Solstad noted that such racist threats and harassment defy everything both King Harald and his late father, King Olav, have stood for. Tajik herself, who regularly attended sessions of the Council of State at the Royal Palace when she was a government minister, had earlier told VG that she simply doesn’t think the position of head of state should be inherited.
“Even though we have a brilliant royal house, for which I have great respect, my feeling is that such positions shouldn’t be passed on through inheritance,” Tajik wrote in a message to VG. She added, though, that she didn’t think the monarchy was “a relevant problem” for the foreseeable future. Recent public opinion polls continue to show widespread support for the monarchy, despite a wave of criticism over a lack of disclosure regarding royal finances and various aspects of royal privilege in Norway.