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MUHAMMAD

Lecturer suspended over racist Muhammad email

A local politician who also lectures at a university in central Sweden has been forced to leave his post after sending a new student a racist email lampooning him as being "Muhammad from Mecca".

Lecturer suspended over racist Muhammad email

“Hello Anneli, can you help Muhammad? He’s probably come straight from Mecca,” wrote Swedish lecturer and local Centre Party politician Hans-Erik Hellborg after receiving a request for guidance from newly admitted student Merhan Mahmoudi.

However, the email never went to the colleague, as Hellborg apparently hit the reply button by mistake, instead sending the note to Mahmoudi.

“I was shocked and disappointed. This is unacceptable,” the 23-year-old, who was inquiring about how to register for a course at Dalarna University (Högskolan Dalarna), told the TT news agency.

Mahmoudi uploaded a screenshot of the email exchange to Facebook, which prompted the creation of an online group calling for the fumbling teacher’s resignation.

Hellsborg, meanwhile, has quickly backtracked and referred to the incident as a joke.

“It was a bad, crude joke,” he told the Nyheter24.se news website.

“I wrote back to him: ‘I’m truly sorry – it was an error of judgement. It was supposed to be taken as a joke, but unfortunately it wasn’t funny at all. I apologize. Welcome to the course.'”

Hellborg’s attempt at being funny, however, has caused university officials to react.

“We’re following our procedures and we’re conducting an investigation that we hope won’t take too long,” Högskolan Dalarna principal Marita Hilliges told Sveriges Television.

“Until we have concluded our investigation, he has been relieved of teaching duties.”

TT/The Local/og

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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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