Members of two highly conservative organizations in Norway, including the government coalition’s own Progress Party, have become the latest to hurl sexist and racist hatred at two female newsmakers in Norway. The organizations themselves have distanced themselves from their own members’ barrage of online filth.
One of the victims was Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, the top politician for the Greens Party who’s in charge of the City of Oslo’s transport and environmental policy. Berg has recently been in the news because of the city’s controversial decision to ban diesel-driven vehicles in Oslo this week in an effort to curb air pollution.
Kristin Brataas, an Oslo politician for the conservative Progress Party, lashed out harshly at Berg, who’s of Vietnamese descent, on her Facebook page on Monday. Brataas, who attached her diatribe against Berg to a news story featuring Berg’s photo, used obscenities referring to female genitalia.
“I am so furious at this (expletive deleted) mouth of a Vietnamese megge (a pompous woman),” wrote Brataas, who, like Berg, is a young woman herself. “Send her and her kind to Vietmam (sic) or North Korea where this communistic dictatorial sect fits in!!!”
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) picked up Brataas’ attack on Berg before Brataas deleted it from her Facebook page after a scolding from party leaders and some apparent regrets. “It was in a fit of anger when I posted it as a private person,” Brataas told NRK on Tuesday. “After I poured out some inappropriate words, I found out that I should remove the entire post because it couldn’t stand like that.”
Ordered to remove the offensive post
Newspaper Dagsavisen had reported on Brataas’ attack first, and that Aina Stenersen, leader of the Progress Party’s Oslo chapter had ordered Brataas to remove it. Brataas, who leads the party’s study group in Oslo’s Nordre Aker district, nonetheless claimed her language merely amounted to “swear words from Trøndelag,” and represented a “typical” manner in which to express herself.
She denied her remarks were racist: “I have a sister who’s half-Filipina, so there’s no racism from me here. The post was deleted when I realized it was inappropriate. But when it comes to the issue (the diesel car ban), I disagree with her (Berg).”
Leaders of the Greens Party called Brataas remarks “openly racist” and urged the Progress Party’s government minister in charge of equality and inclusion, Solveig Horne, to fight against a culture of hate within her own party. “If this isn’t racism, then we have no definition for what it is,” said the Greens’ national spokesperson Une Aina Bastholm.
Stenersen, a rising star within the Progress Party that’s known for its restrictive immigration policy, told Dagsavisen that she “dealt with this at once, and asked her (Brataas) to remove her message.” Stenersen claimed it contained “attitudes that the Progress Party does not stand for. We want to discuss politics and issues, but we don’t want these kinds of characterizations.”
Horne, meanwhile, said she was glad Stenersen scolded Brataas’ post. “The party will handle this further,” said Horne, who claimed the party and the government were battling hatred and taking it seriously: “We have recently proposed a strategy against hatred and we’re strengthening the police’s and courts’ work against illegal expressions of hatred.”
Hijab plaintiff also attacked
The other example of extreme sexism and racism in Norway on Tuesday appeared on another Facebook page for a controversial men’s group called Mannegruppa Ottar. It’s been accused of sexism and ultra-conservative offensive expressions earlier, to the degree that a large state-run hospital recently refused to accept a donation from the group,
Its closed Facebook group attacked the Muslim woman, Malika Bayan, who recently won two rounds in court after suing a West Coast hairdresser who’d refused to serve her because she wears a hijab. Bayan is now also suing the hairdresser, Merete Hodne, for writing extremely negative characteristcs of her on Hodne’s own Facebook pages.
Now Bayan has been attacked by man’s group that seemed to support Hodne. Newspaper VG reported Tuesday that the group’s closed pages linked photos of a naked woman in sexually explicit poses to Bayan’s name.
“I can see a resemblance between me and this woman, but I don’t have blue eyes, I don’t have silicon and I don’t have any tattoos,” Bayan told VG after she’d been sent screen grabs of the men’s pages. “It’s not me in those photos.”
She said she’s considering filing charges with the police against the group and in court. A spokesperson for Mannegruppa Ottar, Kay Erikssen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the offensive photos were unacceptable.
“I think it’s fine if she sues,” Erikssen said. “We are not a porno site and strongly oppose such postings.”