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Swedes urged to celebrate 'multicultural' national day

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12:13 CEST+02:00
An editorial article attacking the far-right and calling on Swedes to celebrate "diversity not stupidity" on national day, has provoked a heated debate in the Swedish media on Monday.

Today is Sweden's national day, a public holiday since 2005, and an occasion seized by many to wave the Swedish flag, and perhaps enjoy a plate or two of pickled herring.

Unfortunately, however, the day has also become synonymous with right-wing extremists, as these groups have chosen June 6th to convene in anti-immigrant marches.

In light of this, newspaper Aftonbladet today published an opinion piece penned by journalist Anders Lindblad, defending the multicultural society.

The piece, headlined "Today we celebrate diversity, not stupidity" (Vi firar mångfald idag - inte enfald), criticizes right-wing parties in Sweden for changing the tone of the immigration debate since extreme-right party Sweden Democrats (SD) entered the Riksdag.

Lindblad suggests that these parties are trying to lure SD's voters with a harsher debate of immigration and multiculturalism.

Lindblad is also critical of those promoting assimilation instead of integration, among others conservative think tank Timbro.

"Development and openness are the sources of our success. Not isolation and insularity. In the Sweden of the future, people can celebrate any holidays they like. Including the national day," he writes.

This opinion piece has sparked a great deal of controversy on the newspaper's website, and just hours after publication the site has been flooded with hundreds of comments from readers who accuse Lindblad and Aftonbladet of trying to rob Sweden of its own identity.

The photograph accompanying the article - a photo montage of a mosque with a Swedish flag waving from the minaret - has been a particular source of aggravation.

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