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RACISM

Outrage leads Stockholm library to drop Tintin ban

Following a storm of media criticism, officials at the Kulturhuset library in Stockholm have reversed their decision to remove Tintin comic books from its shelves, saying the move happened "too fast".

Outrage leads Stockholm library to drop Tintin ban

“The decision happened too fast,” Kulturhuset head Eric Sjöström and the organization’s artistic director, Behrang Miri, said in a statement released late Tuesday morning.

The reversal comes after a report in Tuesday’s Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper in which Miri said the library planned to remove Tintin comics from its shelves.

“The image the Tintin books give of Africans is Afro-phobic, for example. Africans are a bit dumb, while Arabs sit on flying carpets and Turks smoke water pipes,” he told the paper.

But after criticism of the move erupted in Swedish media on Monday morning, Miri changed his stance.

“I wanted to highlight an opinion piece about issues of discrimination, but realize now that it’s wrong to ban books,” Miri said in a statement.

However, Kulturhuset head Sjöström applauded Miri for prompting a discussion about discrimination.

“The issues of discrimination, equality and norms continue to be debated and discussed,” Sjöström said in a statement.

“Behrang Miri is employed as an artistic director for children and young people for all of Kulturhuset, with a stated role of developing its artistic content. His mission is to continue working with issues of discrimination and I support him fully.”

Among those who slammed Kulturhuset’s Tintin ban was Fredrik Strömberg, chair of the Swedish Comics Association (Seriefrämjandet).

“I think it’s wrong. I don’t think people should censure in this way, children are smarter than that. It’s better to talk about the stupid things we have done than to hide them away, that would be the mistake,” he told the TT news agency.

Strömberg argued that people have a strong fear of what children are shown, especially when it comes to pictures.

“The same things in words don’t seem to get such a reaction from people. There’s no one who cleans up Astrid Lindgren because of her Negro kings,” he said.

In Lindgren’s popular Pippi Longstockings books, the main character’s father was said to be a Negro King from the south seas – an issue some publishers have chosen to edit in English to “A king of the south seas”.

TT/The Local/dl

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RACISM

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.

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