Storm over 'official' Jew tweets from Sweden
Published: 12 Jun 2012 15:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Jun 2012 15:39 GMT+02:00
This week, the “curator” of the @Sweden Twitter account, 27-year-old Swedish Sonja Abrahamsson (or Sonja "Hitler" Abrahamsson as she calls herself on her blog), has incensed people after her musings about Jewish people and their religion.
In her Curators biography, Abrahamsson describes herself as “a single and low educated mother”, going on to boast that “at least I don’t do drugs and prostitution”.
She has been at the helm of the official Twitter account since Monday as part of the Curators of Sweden project.
But on Tuesday afternoon, she had people around the world talking about her choice of words (copied below verbatim) in making an apparent appeal for answers about Jewish people.
“Whats the fuzz with jews. You can't even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can't be sure!?” she tweeted at 3pm on Monday to her 32,000 followers.
Just minutes afterwards, she continued her thoughts on the Twittersphere.
“In nazi German they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn't, they could never now who was a jew and who was not a jew.”
Later still, she referred to a colleague who is “part Jew, whatever that means” then added.
“Where I come from there is no jews. I guess its a religion. But why were the nazis talking about races? Was it a blood-thing (for them)?”
Soon after, and following what may have been a backlash from her followers, the 27-year-old claimed that she thought it was a good idea to ask when “so many well educated people all over the world can answer.”
“But no,” she continued. “Bad idea.”
As a final lament, she tweeted: “I just don't get why some people hates jews so much.”
When contacted by The Local, Lena Posner-Körösi, head of the Jewish community in Stockholm, had not yet seen the tweets herself, but was shocked to learn that someone would be allowed to say such things in the name of Sweden.
"If this person is supposed to be an ambassador for Sweden, this is not the way to do it. They really should do a quality check on these people beforehand,” she said.
The Jewish leader added that she found the whole episode "very strange".
Meanwhile, the response to the tweets has been astronomical, with hundreds coming through from Twitter users worldwide.
One complaint which warned Abrahamsson to choose her words more carefully got a quick response from Sweden's official voice on Twitter: “What words were wrong?”
Others have had clearer messages.
“The anti-semitic tweets from @Sweden are putting me off somewhat...” wrote @krsegal.
“Step away from the keyboard,” pleaded @wefail.
“Oh dear - I think there's been a bit of a #PR fail over at the @sweden camp,” wrote @campbell_katy.
Others were less forgiving.
“You're representing your country. Time for an apology,” wrote @mhopp7
However, some followers have embraced the tweets, with one follower (@KawaiiVixen) asking “What’s your personal twitter – you’re hilarious.”
The Swedish Institute’s media relations manager, Sergio Guimaraes, claims that while Abrahamsson’s intentions are hard to decipher, she is still an accurate representation of the variety of the Swedish society.
“We understand that Sonja’s tweets may be seen by some as controversial, but from looking through these tweets we can’t make out if that was her intention,” he told The Local.
“Nowhere in her tweets has she said anything anti-Semitic. The whole point of the account is to show a varied picture of Swedish society, and this is made possible through the freedom of speech that Sonja has used.
In terms of carrying out more thorough background checks, Guimaraes explained that the road to the account is straightforward, and that as a rule, the Institute has very little contact with curators.
“We don’t do deep background checks. If someone nominates you, you are familiar with Twitter, and you have a few followers already, then you are good to go for @Sweden. Freedom of speech and what comes with it reflects Swedish society very well,” he told The Local.
Sweden's Twitter account has been dubbed by promoters as the most democratic Twitter account in the world and has spawned copycat accounts the world over.
The account has been active for nine months.