• Sweden's news in English
 

Laila Bagge's homeless mobile phone flap

Published: 17 Jan 2013 13:28 GMT+01:00

“Who the hell can afford a mobile phone when you’re homeless and begging on the street???,” Wahlgren wrote in a blog post on Wednesday morning, and her name hasn’t left the Swedish headlines since.

But before we look deeper into the blog that got most Swedes talking this week, let's take a quick look at exactly why people care about what Laile Bagge Wahlgren has to say.

Perhaps most known in Sweden for being on the panel of judges for the hit TV programme Idol, Wahlgren is also a singer-songwriter who once penned a tune for Canadian star Celine Dion.

Born in Lund to a Swedish mother and a Palestinian father, the 40-year-old Swede has made a career within the music and television industry, now spending most of her time as a manager and talent agent.

She was previously married to fellow Idol jury member Anders Bagge, and in 2010 married Niclas Wahlgren, the actor/artist brother of singer Pernilla Wahlgren.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Melodifestivalen's first contestants revealed

But as with many TV personalities, Wahlgren’s work away from the screen is the reason her name has been sprawled across headlines this week.

In her blog, published on a portal associated with Mama magazine, she took issue with a homeless man on Stockholm’s Kungsgatan who she spied while waiting in her car at a red light.

“Beside the car on the street was a man who was sitting with a coffee cup in front of him, praying with clasped hands for help from everyone that passed,” she wrote.

“He even had a sign that said Homeless on it!

“You can bet I was amazed when this ‘homeless’ man got out a mobile phone and answered it!!! Who the hell can afford a mobile phone when you’re homeless and begging on the street??? If you can afford a mobile phone then it’s doesn't feel very trustworthy to sit there on your knees with your hands together begging for money with a sign saying you’re homeless!”

Wahlgren even took issue with the mystery person on the other end of the phone call, on the suspicion that they were also homeless.

“I get so annoyed when I see these kind of people, you get suspicious and afraid to help the wrong ‘homeless’ people and I don’t like that feeling. Grrr…” she continued

The blog post has since been shared on Facebook 2,700 times. It might not sound like much for a TV personality, but in comparison, her previous post had only garnered one share.

SEE ALSO: Homeless people get cigarettes for Christmas

Mainstream Swedish media was quick to enter the fray, with the Aftonbladet newspaper talking to other homeless people around Stockholm about their own mobile phone habits.

“If I have a heart attack and am alone somewhere, I need a mobile phone, it’s my last lifeline,” Jouka Jokinen, who has been homeless in the Swedish capital for over 25 years, told the paper.

Jokinen said his mobile was "as important as food" and that much of the money he gets through begging goes toward purchasing credit for the pay-as-you-go phone.

“She’s welcome to come down here and see how we live. She can have my mobile number if she wants,” another homeless man, Mikael, chimed in, explaining he paid 200 kronor ($30) for his mobile.

Celebrity handyman Aders Öfvergård, who worked with homeless people in Kanal 5’s ”Nybyggarna” programme, also slammed Bagge over her comments.

“I was really damn angry at what she said. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. She’s talking irresponsibly about a person she doesn’t even know, who clearly has it much tougher than her,” he told the paper.

However, controversial celebrity blogger Katrin Zytomierska came to Bagge's defence in a post published on Wednesday.

RELATED: Blogger gets the boot after gym ad attack

"If you don't have a home and are begging for money on the street, then you clearly can't afford a mobile phone. They're just trying to dupe us," she wrote.

But a spokeswoman for Stockholm's Stadmission, which operates homeless shelters in the capital, slammed Bagge, saying she "doesn't understand what she's saying".

"It's demeaning, ignorant and a sign that she has an outdated view of humanity," Yvonne Borg told the Nyheter24 news website.

She explained that 60 percent of homeless people in Stockholm have children and that it's common for companies to donate mobile phones or public transit passes to the homeless instead of giving money.

RELATED: A list of The Local's past Swedes of the Week

While refusing to speak to media about the incident, Wahlgren took to her blog again on Thursday to issue a public apology.

“What I wrote came across as truly unsympathetic - which was never my intention,” she wrote.

“I hope you all accept my apology and we can leave all this behind us now.”

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

Related links:

Your comments about this article

15:28 January 17, 2013 by StockholmSam
Well, let's just think about this for a second. A mobile phone costs 200-350kr per month to own and operate and it serves as a very useful, sometimes life-saving tool for anyone. It is not just for playing games or arranging meet-ups at Espresso House.

A studio apartment rental costs roughly 5000-10 000 kr per month.

Certainly, I can see how a person might be able to afford a phone but not a home. Too bad this filthy wench cannot see that.
15:30 January 17, 2013 by Viking1
So, where the hell do the homeless people charge their mobile phones?
15:48 January 17, 2013 by Rishonim
Allez les manouche
16:12 January 17, 2013 by star10
Being a celebrity doesn't guarantee having a good brain. This celebrity's head (I don't even remember her name after reading the article) is full of mucus that is just stupid. It is luck that got her so much wealth and it is luck that got many people in the street. And a really stupid as*hol* like this lady can also be lucky enough to have so much wealth.
16:16 January 17, 2013 by Svensksmith
Yes, she has an outdated view of society. In this new age of entitlement, working for a living is no longer necessary. Live free off the taxpayer!
16:21 January 17, 2013 by johan rebel
Oh oh, better not say or write anything in public that offends the PC elite in this country. or the charities that need to find as many "needy" clients as possible so they can demand increased subsidies and expand their business.
16:55 January 17, 2013 by star10
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:10 January 17, 2013 by Hamsterdam
I've met this woman with her child. Awful mother as well as person.
17:24 January 17, 2013 by StockholmSam
So the next time I see a homeless person begging, I am going to say, "oh yeah? And what are you going to spend this money on, anyway? A kontantkort? I don't think so, bub! Here, have an orange."
17:33 January 17, 2013 by Scepticion
Old mobile phones should readily be available for free, because of the fast replacement cycles. And with a prepaid card, you can have a mobile phone for about 100 SEK per year if you don't call much.

Anyway, the story is an old hat.
18:52 January 17, 2013 by StockholmSam
We can only assume that was the fella's home phone.
00:51 January 18, 2013 by GLO
Not only do I say go girl. But she is still HOT, so she can say wht ever in my book....
08:24 January 18, 2013 by snowtiger
Sweden has homeless people? Well, shocking isn't it? So let me ask you this swedes...if you can't manage to feed and housing your own people, so why the ef are you taking in refugees by the hundreds everyday to feed and housing them? As for this beauty, she should know better, begging is in her blood!
09:07 January 18, 2013 by Cosme Fulanito
I did not read the article but.... damn She is pretty :)
09:40 January 18, 2013 by wabasha
i find nothing to shocking about what she said. i don't expect her to be an expert on the subject. but the truth is if I had a couple extra coins in my pocket it would not be given to the guy talking on the phone. have a skill, tell a joke, play some music badly or something... i guess i just expect more from beggers.
10:29 January 18, 2013 by Migga
@snowtiger

Ever wonderd about the fact that most homeless and beggers in Sweden are foreign or organized criminals?
11:53 January 18, 2013 by snowtiger
Oh I know full well they're mostly Gypsy beggers, but I wouldn't waste any chance of taking swipe at the swedes, gee I despite them.
01:08 January 19, 2013 by unhappy camper of the saints
In the USA back in the 60's you could not get welfare if you had a landline in your home.

Now the the Federal government pays for a wireless phone and the monthly fee for anybody who gets food stamps and/or other welfare payments

This includes many homeless people.

I am surprised by the anger of a Swede over this issue
06:22 January 19, 2013 by snowtiger
I have one thing in mind only...are those are real? They look just fine, very fine! Sorry about that hash comment there miss, there is nothing wrong with what you said about the gypsy begger anyway.
10:52 January 20, 2013 by skatty
I think one reason is that there are very few public phones (the classical phone boxes) in the streets. Most of the public phones are vanished from the streets and you may just find it in downtown (especially in Scandinavian countries to encourage people to by mobile phone).

For a decade ago, I realized that public phones suddenly have vanished from the streets (sometimes my mobile didn't work and I had to make emergency calls).

Even a homeless may need to call somewhere if not to receive!
10:57 January 21, 2013 by Rishonim
I see those Gypsies all over Europe assuming the same position for begging. Yet, I feel sorry for them as they came to the worst country to peddle for a coin. The weather is miserable and Swedes are extremely cheap; hence I don't think those beggars will make more than 20 Kronor on a good day.
13:07 January 21, 2013 by snowtiger
Swedes are extremely cheap? Well, they have to save money for your welfare don't they?
12:29 January 22, 2013 by Rishonim
@snowtiger. LOL. Unhesitatingly and without detracting much from your merits, I will say I that pay more taxes in one month than you and your entire household will pay in one year.
07:39 January 24, 2013 by robban70226
Here in Sweden any bubble head is a TV personality'' Nothing needed in the brains as far as they can shot tits and %ss. Dont take much f´to get the ttention of the Swedes, empty lifes looking for empty heads, no brainer
21:14 March 21, 2013 by janeway
She's a waste of air.
Today's headlines
Swedish terror suspect released from custody
The hearing at Gothenburg District Court on Friday. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Swedish terror suspect released from custody

A man detained by a Gothenburg court on suspicion of committing murder in Syria has been released from custody pending an ongoing investigation. READ  

Swedish thieves use mobile app to rob man
Swedish app Swish allows users to transfer money in real time using mobile technology. Photo: TT

Swedish thieves use mobile app to rob man

In cashless Sweden even robbers have had to change their methods, with thieves on the island of Gotland resorting to the popular money transfer app Swish to extort money from their victim. READ  

Gothenburg rocked by 'fairly big' earthquake
An earthquake hit the Gothenburg area on Wednesday evening. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Gothenburg rocked by 'fairly big' earthquake

An earthquake shook the Gothenburg area in western Sweden on Wednesday evening. READ  

Child's toy bow and arrow spark police alert
A Stockholm police car. File photo: TT

Child's toy bow and arrow spark police alert

After a summer of violence the southern Swedish town of Malmö is on edge, so much so that a full-scale police operation was launched for what turned out to be a child playing with a toy gun and a bow and arrow. READ  

What's on in Sweden
Five fun festivals to get you partying in Sweden
The Medieval Week on Gotland. Photo: Marie-Anne Björkman/Medeltidsveckan

Five fun festivals to get you partying in Sweden

Sweden is gearing up for a number of great festivals this week. Check out our favourite five picks as well as a handy interactive guide to all of Sweden's best events. READ  

Heavy rail travel delays expected across Sweden
Train delays are expected on Thursday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/SCANPIX

Heavy rail travel delays expected across Sweden

UPDATED: Commuters or summer tourists experiencing Sweden by rail are set for travel chaos on Thursday as delays are expected in several parts of the Nordic country. READ  

Lukewarm support for 'alternative pride march'
Participants were outnumbered by some 100 counter-demonstrators. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Lukewarm support for 'alternative pride march'

Fewer than a couple of dozen demonstrators turned up to walk in a controversial gay rights parade organized by far-right campaigners in Sweden on Wednesday, according to police. READ  

Swedish police probe mysterious powder
A Swedish police car. File photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

Swedish police probe mysterious powder

UPDATED: Suspicious white powder sent to Sweden's public broadcaster SVT's offices in Blekinge has been found to be harmless, a police spokesperson told The Local on Wednesday afternoon. READ  

Hedgehogs 'kicked like footballs' in Sweden
The centre suspects that at least ten of the 118 hedgehogs the centre has taken in so far this year have been hurt by people. File photo: Drago Prvulovic/Scanpix

Hedgehogs 'kicked like footballs' in Sweden

Shocking reports from a rescue centre in western Sweden about cruel abuse of hedgehogs have put the Nordic country's reputation as an animal-friendly nation in a different light. READ  

Swedish streaming site to shut down after raid
Swefilmer administrator Ola Johansson has announced that the site will close for good on Friday July 31st. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad / TT

Swedish streaming site to shut down after raid

A popular Swedish film-streaming site has announced that it will shut down after police arrested and searched the home of one of the site’s administrators. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
How a century-old Russian sub wreck got Sweden into a frenzy
Gallery
People-watching: July 29th
National
How to become a Swedish woman
National
Free bus cards for refugees in Sweden
Lifestyle
New snaps of Sweden's baby prince
Blog updates

24 July

Editor’s blog, July 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Dear readers, Our most read story this week was our tongue-in-cheek guide on how to become a..." READ »

 

15 July

Climate Change: A New Risk Assessment (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world today.   The UK is..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Why are Swedes so scared of Russian submarines?
Gallery
Property of the week: Simrishamn, Skåne
National
Why has Snoop Dogg said he will never return to Sweden?
Sponsored Article
Getting pregnant the Swedish way
Features
Five outrageously harsh tourist comments about Sweden
Sponsored Article
Why is Sweden still working with Russia?
Gallery
People-watching: July 24th-26th
Travel
Seven ways to beat the Swedish rain
National
Should Sweden's alcohol stores be open on weekends?
National
How to become a Swedish man
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd
Lifestyle
How to never miss your favourite features on The Local
National
Royal husband on 'breadwinner' role
National
Stockholm to ban all cars for one day
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Gallery
Property of the week: Sölvesborg, Blekinge
National
Questions over who would replace Swedish PM in a crisis
Gallery
IN PICTURES: July summer snaps
Gallery
People-watching: July 17th-19th
National
Why are Swedish women joining Isis?
Travel
Ten Stockholm streets you just have to walk down
Sponsored Article
'Swedish women must demand their partners use a condom'
Sport
Did UK football parents threaten Swedish kids?
Technology
Stockholm scientists find world's oldest sperm
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th
National
Angry Swede uses bird nest as fake speed camera
National
Meatball row as Ikea changes recipe
National
Sweden's new princess in spotlight
National
Slimy slugs go on sale to raise cash for EU migrants in Sweden
National
Crown Princess Victoria turns 38
Sponsored Article
Harstena: Life in Sweden's secret archipelago
National
Is this the best marriage proposal story in Malmö's history?
Sponsored Article
'Biofuels critical for climate-friendly flights'
Sponsored Article
Gaps don't have to kill your Swedish CV
National
Why summer could be the best time to invest in a Swedish property
Gallery
Property of the week: Bollnäs, Hälsingland
National
Swedish house on sale for one krona
National
Would you give this ugly food a home?
Gallery
People-watching: July 10th-12th
Travel
Foreign hikers in Sweden set to get more help in English
National
Prince Nicolas enjoys first summer
National
Meet the amazing Swedish granny who loves theme parks
National
Stockholm to host Eurovision 2016
Travel
Five quirky summer tours in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: July 8th
Sponsored Article
'Swedish industry needs US trade deal'
Sponsored Article
Sweden's 'incredible' chance to connect
Sponsored Article
'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Sponsored Article
‘I don’t feel Swedish, I feel international’
Sponsored Article
VIP Mingle at Almedalen's hottest event
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

3,274
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se