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Minister apologizes over ‘racist’ cake cutting

A public apology by Sweden's minister for culture on Wednesday didn't stop calls for her to resign after she carved up a cake depicting a naked black woman, sparking an onslaught of criticism.

Minister apologizes over 'racist' cake cutting

On Wednesday Sweden’s culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth apologized for her participation in a ceremony involving a cake depicting a nude African woman that sparked cries of racism.

The controversial cake was prepared to mark the 75th anniversary of the National Organisation of Swedish artists, (Konstnärernas Riksorganisation, KRO) attended by Adelsohn Liljeroth.

The cake was designed by Makode Linde, a black artist known in Sweden for provocative work that aims to challenge racial stereotypes.

But cutting the cake, some said, conjured up images of female genital mutilation, a practice widely considered barbaric which is still practiced by some African communities, increasingly in secret.

“In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) told The Local on Tuesday.

“This was a racist spectacle.”

Adelsohn Liljeroth attended the April 15 event and participated in the cake cutting ceremony, prompting outcry from the association, which called it, “an act in bad taste and racist.”

“I am sincerely sorry if anyone has misinterpreted my participation,” the

minister said in a statement.

“While the symbolism in the piece is despicable, it is unfortunate and highly regrettable that the presentation has been interpreted as an expression of racism by some. The artistic intent was the exact opposite.”

Adelsohn Liljeroth met with the Afro-Swedish Association on Wednesday, but the group stands by their calls for her to resign, the group’s Zakaria Zouhir told the TT news agency.

Zouhir added that his group was less concerned about the the artwork itself, but remained angered by the minister’s actions.

“Art is art and that is something for the artists themselves to discuss,” he said.

“It’s more about how the minister behaved in the situation surrounding the artwork.”

According to Zouhir, the minster should have know what she was getting herself into when she attended the event because she has “people who check up on events before she arrives”.

The embattled minister noted that the piece was “provocative” but said the imagery had been misunderstood.

“The actual intent of the piece…is to challenge the traditional image of racism, abuse and oppression through provocation,” her statement said.

TT/AFP/The Local

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Swedish teacher fired for racist Facebook posts

A newly-hired teacher in southern Sweden had her contract terminated after the school discovered anti-Muslim posts that she had written on the internet.

Swedish teacher fired for racist Facebook posts
Photo: Brennan Linsley/TT
The teacher was meant to start working this August at the Montessori school in Kalmar, but after the school principal took a good look online she decided to end the already-signed contract due to the teacher's openly racist views.
 
The principal, Ann-Sofie Stensdotter, told Sveriges Radio that the teacher's extremely negative opinions about Muslims and "illegal immigrants" go against the school's values.
 
She added that the school will begin looking at what job seekers write on the internet in advance to avoid hiring people who are actively fighting for values not in line with the school's code.
 
The teacher published several video clips on her Facebook page where people, allegedly Muslims, engage in such acts as animal abuse. She had also commented on several of her posts, writing that "these people are God's punishment" for Sweden becoming a secular nation.
 
Another picture of a thin, old white person and a well-fed dark person was captioned with claims that "illegal immigrants" take all the government's money, leaving nothing to Swedish pensioners. 
 
Hanna Oxell, front desk manager at Wise recruitment agency, told The Local that workers at her agency usually check online to see if the person interviewed matches the person online.
 
"We want to see if it strengthens the image of the person we are recruiting," she continued.
 
Stensdotter stressed that the biggest problem was not the teacher's views, however, but the strength and openness with which she shared them. The teacher's extreme views against those with Muslim backgrounds would be clear to students, Stensdotter said. 
 
In a report by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and Bisnode about how Swedish employers look up potential candidates, 75 percent were revealed to have some kind of policy in place for background checks on job seekers.
 
About 45 percent search their candidates on Facebook, and nearly 40 percent use search engines like Google.
 
"It's not that common, but companies tend to say no to job-seekers in serious cases," Oxell told The Local. "For example when their opinions doesn't match the company's values."
 
Isabela Vrba/The Local
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