Left Party member Ahmed Bouirda was scheduled to give a speech about the struggle of women in the Arab world at a rally to be held on Saturday in the central Swedish town nestled on the eastern coast.
But he was removed from the speaker’s list after one of his female colleagues reminded fellow party members that Bouirda had sent her several harassing emails last year.
“Leave Sweden immediately. Disappear. You smell like shit, you’ve left your country; you are a cowardly human being. If you want to earn money, go sell your ass in a Copenhagen brothel,” read one of the messages, according to the Gefle Dagblad newspaper.
The first anonymous emails arrived shortly after the victim had been given a new set of political responsibilities within the party. At first, the writer claimed to be a member of the Left Party, but in the final note the sender said he belonged to the far-right Sweden Democrats.
Shortly before his Left Party colleagues were set to report the matter to police, Bouirda came forward and admitted he sent the messages.
“I don’t have any explanation as to why I sent the messages. It was stupid. I’ve apologized and I thought the matter was behind me,” Bouirda told The Local.
Bouirda was forced to give up his seat on the party chapter’s managing board, as well as his other political responsibilities following the incident.
The victim of the threats was therefore stunned to learn that Bouirda was still scheduled to speak at the International Women’s Day gathering as of Friday morning.
“I think it’s a serious problem to have a man with these values lecturing about women in the Arab world,” the victim told Gefle Dagblad.
“I joined the Left Party because I thought the party stood for fairness, that it was democratic, feminist, and immigrant friendly, and stood up for those whose rights had been violated. But I’ve been treated in a manner completely opposite from these principles,” the victim continued.
By late afternoon on Friday, however, Left Party leaders had removed Bouirda from the programme.
“It was a bit naïve and premature of us to believe that all of this would have blown over by now, even if it’s been almost a year,” said Björn Öberg, head of the Left Party in Gävle, to Gefle Dagblad.
Bouirda regrets losing the opportunity to speak, but understands the decision.
“I was prepared to speak on what I thought would be an interesting topic for people. It’s regrettable that people are instead focusing attention on this incident,” he told The Local.