Swedish teacher keeps job after racist remarks

Political leaders in Landskrona in southern Sweden have condemned racist remarks made by a local teacher at one of the city's schools two years ago. However, the teacher continues to teach in the municipality.

Swedish teacher keeps job after racist remarks

Among other statements, the teacher questioned the rights of immigrants to have children, according to a recording made by a student.

“The statement is shocking. I am glad that the principal and human resources manager acted forcefully,” said Landskrona children and youth committee chairwoman Lisa Flinth of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) to the TT news agency.

Educational broadcaster UR’s Skolfront programme reported that the teacher’s comment was not an isolated incident. According to a number of students, parents and former employees, several of the school’s staff members had made xenophobic remarks to their students.

The municipality has condemned the utterances, but has not commented on how the teacher managed to escape any disciplinary action by transferring to another school.

Flinth views the incident as strictly a staffing-related matter that she would not get involved in.

At a Friday press conference called by Landskrona municipality following the UR report, Thomas Johansson, director of administration for the children and education committee in Landskrona, said that he only arrived in Landskrona in September of last year.

In addition, he claimed that none of the principals who now work at the school in question in Landskrona had anything to do with the incident.

As a result, he declined to comment on the particular case exposed by Skolfront, but said that if any teacher would express such an opinion now, he could not see how it would be possible for the teacher to continue teaching in Landskrona.

When asked if he would notify the police if he learned of these types of opinions being expressed, Johansson said, “We always notify [the police] if staff or students commit crimes. Here in Landskrona, we have absolutely zero tolerance for any insults against the students.”

Regarding the news that the teacher in this case is still working in the municipality, Johansson said that it is impossible to take action against the teacher now for what may have happened two years ago.

The transfer was the result of a central bargaining agreement, he added.

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Black Lives Matter wins Swedish rights prize

The international civil rights movement Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation on Friday won Sweden's Olof Palme human rights prize for 2020.

Black Lives Matter wins Swedish rights prize
A Black Lives Matter protest in Malmö, June 2020. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The foundation was honoured for its work promoting “peaceful civil disobedience against police brutality and racial violence all over the world,” prize organisers said in a statement.

The Black Lives Matter movement, founded in 2013 in the United States, has “in a unique way exposed the hardship, pain, and wrath of the African-American minority at not being valued equal to people of a different colour,” the statement said.

The movement had its major international breakthrough in the summer of 2020 following several cases of extreme brutality in the US, including the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

READ MORE: INTERVIEW: Sweden's anti-racism protests aren't just about what's happening in other countries

Prize organisers noted that an estimated 20 million people have taken part in Black Lives Matter protests in the US alone, and millions more around the world.

“This illustrates that racism and racist violence is not just a problem in American society, but a global problem.”

The Olof Palme Prize is an annual prize worth $100,000 awarded by the Olof Palme Memorial Fund.

It commemorates the memory of Sweden's Social Democratic prime minister Olof Palme, an outspoken international human rights advocate — and vehement opponent of US involvement in the Vietnam War — who was assassinated in Stockholm in 1986.

Since 1987 the award has honoured human rights defenders around the world including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

An online prize ceremony will take place in Stockholm on Saturday.