Warsan Ismail
Warsan Ismail Twitter

Tweets written by a Somali medical student about some of her unpleasant experiences in Norway have inspired an online discussion about racism in the Scandinavian nation that witnessed the horrific massacre of 77 people by a far-right extremist just two years ago.

Over the weekend, Warsan Ismail, a 23-year-old Norwegian of Somali descent, released various tweets describing race-related travails she and her family have endured in Norway, which, in turn led to the creation of the hashtag #norskrasisme ("Norwegian racism") that encouraged other ethnic minorities in the country to discuss their personal experiences of racism and also involved native Norwegians to comment on what is becoming an increasingly multicultural society.

One of her initial tweets discussed the time when, at age 5, neighbors sicced two dogs on her and her mother and hurled racial insults at them. Eventually, her narratives led to others in Norway contributing their own painful episodes of bigotry. "Several times, I've experienced people making monkey noises and comments about my skin color on public transport late at night," Ismail tweeted.

Lubna Jaffery, a former Norwegian lawmaker of Pakistani descent also joined the Twitter discussion to share her experiences. "I love my country, I wouldn't live anywhere else but Norway -- but still this [racism] is an issue we need to debate," she said, adding that she had been spat upon by white Norwegians in public places, including buses, like Ismail.

Below are some tweets by Ismail and others:

@martingruner Nei, forut drapet stelte du istand et minefelt av hjelpsomhet. Jeg ble manipulert. @Ingeborgborg @BjoernStaerk @ErikTornes

"The grievances of ordinary minorities have been a bit absent from the public debate,” Ismail told Al Jazeera. “And I figured I should write something about how I felt about it."

Ismail noted, however, that she doesn’t think racism is a massive problem in Norway, but that improvements in race relations are still necessary. "Norwegian society is very good already,” she said. “I think it’s very unfair to call Norwegian society a racist society, but your average society can get better, and this element [racism] has been undiscussed and unexplored for a while, and getting this up now and discussing it leads to more people feeling welcome and feeling Norwegian in Norway.”

The Local newspaper reported that "norskrasisme" became the top-trending Twitter item in Norway by Monday. "I'm as surprised as everybody else," Ismail told The Local. "I suppose that many people with minority backgrounds realized that they had an opportunity to share their stories. Luckily, the severe [racialist] incidents are very rare. But I've experienced a lot of non-severe incidents, especially when people are a bit drunk when they get out of the subway and start asking where you come from. Just because you're drunk doesn't mean you can get racist." She added: "I'm lucky, I'm young. I'm fluent in Norwegian and I've lived here all my life. But my impression is that the less time you've lived in Norway, the less fluent you are in Norwegian, the more often you will meet prejudice. What's surprising is that many people who are ethnic Norwegians also shared stories from people in their circles who have uttered racist comments."

According to Norwegian government statistics, the country’s immigrant population has jumped to about 547,000 (11 percent of the total) from about 186,000 (4.3 percent) in 1995. More than half of the current immigrants hail from other European countries, particularly Poland, Sweden and Germany. Norway also has significant communities of Somalis, Iraqis and Pakistanis.