• Sweden edition
 
Pedestrian signal boxes' religious message upsets non-believers

Pedestrian signal boxes' religious message upsets non-believers

Published: 22 Aug 2008 12:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Aug 2008 12:42 GMT+02:00

Designer Kenneth Österlin has issued a written statement categorically denying that his design for Prisma Teknik AB, the Swedish company behind the pedestrian signals, is in any way a religious symbol.

"To make the conclusion that the finger is pointing to God is pretty far-fetched. It is pointing that way in order to direct people as to where to push the button".

Designer Österlin isn't the only person seeing red after reading about the signal boxes' alleged religious message.

On Monday an official complaint was filed with the justice ombudsman, claiming that if media reports were true, then official bodies have broken the law by allowing religious symbols on the pedestrian signal boxes, Svenska Dagbladet reports.

Anyone living in Sweden or the Nordic countries will almost certainly have seen the image of a hand pointing upwards to encourage pedestrians to press the button before crossing the road.

Prisma Teknik AB, the Swedish company behind the pedestrian signals, openly admitted last week that the hand was meant as a hidden symbol for God. In fact, the company says it has never made any secret of the fact.

"We want to show that there is only one way to reach God and that is up and through Jesus", CEO Jan Lund told The Local.

Though Sweden is not particularly religious, with church attendances consistently low, the country still contains some pockets of religious fervour. One of these appears to be located at Prisma Teknik, a company that supplies pedestrian signals and other technical devices to 60 markets around the world.

Prisma Teknik AB is a family-run business based in the southern Swedish county of Småland, an area with a reputation as Sweden's bible belt.

CEO Jan Lund told The Local that the company's signals point the way to God in 17 countries including Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Belgium, Israel, and the US among others.

Prisma Teknik's hand points upwards, much in the way that many religious icons or pictures of Jesus have done through the ages. Lund told The Local that this was entirely intentional.

However, Prisma Teknik's hand of God does not go down quite so well with its Muslim clients in the Arab world, who are much more aware of the hidden Christian message than your average Swede.

Even so, the Swedish Christian company still supplies pedestrian signal signs to customers in Saudi Arabia, who promptly cover up the hand when it arrives in the Arab state.

The Local asked Jan Lund why his company does not simply manufacture a special pedestrian signal without the iconic index finger for the Arab market.

"We want to be a servant of God and we have been blessed as a company for 21 years, so we won't change for anyone", he said.

On its website, Prisma Teknik AB openly declares its thanks to God:

"We are grateful for all the good customers and suppliers we have. It is also thanks to the care from God that we have developed to be the successful company we are today. We want to have Jesus as a part in everything we do. Christian values and God's guidance is the foundation of Prisma Teknik."

And perhaps it is wise not to change a winning formula. All the pedestrian signals are manufactured in Sweden and the 13-strong company's turnover for 2007 was more than 25.5 million kronor ($4 million).

Claudia Rodas (news@thelocal.se)

Today's headlines
VIDEO: All Saints' Day
Halloween 'boosts' All Saints celebrations
Photo: Cecilia Larsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Halloween 'boosts' All Saints celebrations

The advance of Halloween as a popular holiday in Sweden has increased the popularity of All Saints' Day, contrary to fears when the US-inspired celebration first emerged in Sweden. READ  

Politics
Sweden slammed for racism report omissions

Sweden slammed for racism report omissions

The Swedish government has been criticized by a slew of organisations for omitting a series of notorious cases of discrimination and a general lack of self-criticism in its report to the UN Human Rights Council. READ  

Sport
Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden's top scorer in history. PHOTO: TT/Maja Suslin

Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is recovering well from the nagging heel problem that has stopped him playing for Sweden during its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. READ  

International
Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir
A shot from the video on YouTube.

Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir

Two sisters from Södertälje near Stockholm are celebrating getting more than 1.3 million hits on YouTube, with a video calling for peace in war-torn Syria. READ  

Pirate Bay
Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison
A 2013 image of Svartholm Warg. Photo: TT

Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison

Swedish "hactivist" Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for hacking crimes. READ  

Royal family
Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback
Princess Madeleine at a previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback

Sweden's Princess Madeleine is scheduled to appear at the Nobel Festival in Stockholm in December, after taking time out from her royal duties to focus on looking after her daughter. READ  

Politics
'We knew that Israel would be critical'
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (left), with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

'We knew that Israel would be critical'

Sweden's Foreign Minister has told The Local she respects Israel's decision to recall its ambassador after Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, and laughed off comments about IKEA furniture made by her Israeli counterpart. READ  

Analysis
'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'
Doctors say we should make the most of the autumn sunshine. Photo: Shutterstock

'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'

Spending time outdoors this autumn will help you survive a cold, dark Swedish winter. Baba Pendse, Head of Psychiatry at Lund University shares his top tips for battling the seasonal blues with The Local. READ  

Sports
Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid
Skiers hit the slopes in Åre, western Sweden. Photo: TT

Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid

Norwegian sports officials have said they want to co-host the winter Olympics with Sweden in 2026. But there has so far been no official response from Sweden. READ  

National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

31 October

Editor’s Blog, October 31st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Welcome to our latest 60-second round-up of the week’s news. First, Sweden made headlines around the..." READ »

 

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

934
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN