Social Democrat sacked over Facebook racism
Published: 20 Sep 2013 07:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Sep 2013 07:36 GMT+02:00
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At the weekend, Fredrik Norén, who sat on the local council of Norra municipality near Örebro in central Sweden, posted a link to a text-based graphic on his personal Facebook page that had his Social Democrat colleagues seeing red.
"When Africans say that Swedish girls only have themselves to blame if they get raped because they are so scantily clad. Is it then okay to run over a Negro if it's dark out," reads a translation of the text, which was written in Swedish.
Norén prefaced the text with the following statement, visible on a screenshot of the post published by local news website i24.se, which first reported the story.
"No, better dressed girls and reflectors for negros!! :-) One can joke, but there is something in this text."
In comments below the original Facebook post, a fellow Social Democrat was quick to criticize Norén's post.
"Low...so bloody low. I expected a higher level of debate from by party colleagues," the angry Social Democrat wrote.
In subsequent comments, Norén attempted to defend the argument presented in the text.
When contacted for comment by i24.se, Norén expressed his regret over the post, which he has since erased.
"These are unfortunate circumstances and a lack of knowledge about how one manages Facebook," he said, adding that he made the comment as part of his efforts to raise awareness about the importance of wearing reflectors and reflective clothing during Sweden's dark winter months.
Norén went on to explain that "at my house Negro isn't a bad word" and that Sweden has "a society where people still talk about Negro balls (negerbollar )", referencing a colloquial term that has recently fallen out of fashion in many parts of Sweden and which refers to a small, spherical, coconut-covered cake more commonly referred to as a "chocolate ball".
He also asserted he is not a racist.
"It's nothing I stand for. The absolute last thing I stand for is for being racist or denigrating people," he said.
Despite his apologies, Norén's political career with the Social Democrats has come to a halt following the incident. On Wednesday night he posted on Facebook that he was resigning from all of his political responsibilities with the party.
His resignation was confirmed in a press release issued by the party on Thursday morning. Gerd Erlandsson, chair of the Social Democrat chapter in Norra, told local newspaper Nerikes Allehanda (NA) that Norén's "misguided Facebook posts" prompted the party to take action.
Norén said he accepted the decision, emphasizing again that he "doesn't have a racist bone in his body".
"I think it's a shame they didn't ask me to come and explain myself," he told NA.
"It was a misinterpretation and I only have myself to blame."