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Centre Party forgives prof's Muhammad email

The Local · 9 Mar 2013, 11:05

Published: 09 Mar 2013 11:05 GMT+01:00

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"He is deeply regretful," Anna-Maja Roos, chair of the Centre Party's branch in Rättvik, central Sweden, told local paper Dalademokraten (DD).

Hans-Erik Hellborg, a lecturer in law, mistakenly sent the offensive email to a future student called Merhan Mahmoudi, who had requested guidance.

He wrote: "Hello Anneli, can you help Muhammad? He's probably come straight from Mecca."

Instead of forwarding the email to his colleague, Hellborg mistakenly hit the reply button and the message went to the 23-year-old Mahmoudi, who uploaded a screenshot of the email exchange to Facebook.

It prompted the creation of an online group calling for the teacher's resignation.

Hellborg, an elected representative of the Centre Party in Rättvik's city council, was suspended from Dalarna University (Högskolan Dalarna) after the email scandal broke out in February.

He said that he would take a time out from politics.

Hellborg's Centre Party colleagues have now apparently forgiven him, as he was re-elected at the board's annual meeting just two weeks after his suspension from the university, where an inquiry into the event is still underway.

When the email came to light, the Centre Party in Rättvik held a crisis meeting.

"We fully condemn this. It has harmed us," Roos said at the time.

Soon after, Hellborg had the opportunity to tell his party colleagues his own version of the events.

According to Roos, Hellborg admitted to a lack of judgement, said that he deeply regretted writing the email and explained that there were no hidden intentions behind the formulation, which he said was clumsy.

While Roos and her party colleagues agreed that the email was inappropriate and could be seen as offensive, they did not want to label it racist.

"We do not want to use that word. That would be taking it too far," said Roos.

Mahmoudi told news agency TT that he was "was shocked and disappointed" by the email, which he called "unacceptable".

Hellborg quickly backtracked, referring to the incident as a joke.

Story continues below…

"It was a bad, crude joke," he told the Nyheter24.se news website at the time.

"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.'"

The local Centre Party's annual board meeting was held in the first week of March and Hellborg was on the list of nominees for the coming term.

"He ran and was elected for a year's term, just like the other board members," said Roos.

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Your comments about this article

11:51 March 9, 2013 by grainofsand
I think this says something very sad about Swedish culture that he could get away with something so blatantly racist and offensive and even worse that there is no uproar from society saying they will not accept this type of ignorance.

Absolutely outrageous, and it reminds of what happened with the "tårtgate", while discrimination may not be as blatant as it was in the states in the 60's and before I believe Sweden has a long way to come in terms of acknowledging what seems to be systemic racism/racial discrimination.
15:04 March 9, 2013 by kaa977
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:27 March 9, 2013 by Elf_Moon
OK he made one mistake, yes it was stupid of him to have said it, and to him it may not have been insulting, and yes, he should have considered the effect it would have had on the offended.

But to throw away this man's life? What? Are we going to bring in the death sentence next? Or maybe we will become like Dubai where unsubstantiated claims that someone said something 'mean' (cry me a river...) will land a man in jail.

Yes, he made ONE mistake, he should get a slap on the hand, but we shouldn't tell him to 'go somewhere and die' over it. At least it seems that way to me.
15:41 March 9, 2013 by kaa977
If I were an immigrant from a worn-torn country generously saved by another country, as a minimum, I would learn the language, tone done my religion and the previous way of life, work and pay taxes. In other words, I would try to integrate, NOT transform my host country into my home country. Otherwise, later on I would need to find another country to host me.

And if someone was religiously insensitive, so what? Get over it! The Swedish tax payers helped and SAVED hundreds of thousands of your Muslim brothers and will be paying for your education.

And I am 100% certain this so-called future student will never leave Sweden once his so-called education is completed and would constantly complain how racist and horrible Sweden is.
16:15 March 9, 2013 by Max Reaver

Well it sounds a bit like you've never been an immigrant before...

It's not only about religious insensitivity. Part of it came from how little racism is acknowledged in society compared to how prevalence it really is. Call it "smygracism". Very few average Swedes will ever openly admit that they have racist thoughts or action, while SD keeps on growing bigger and bigger. Do you see a disparity there? The whole thing was about bringing out the hidden racism sentiment from behind the masks of denial. Denial of real-world problems is a major source to the social issues of this country.
21:15 March 9, 2013 by grainofsand
@ Max Reaver - i completely agree with everything you said

@kaa977/Elf_Moon - did anyone speak in such drastic terms? other then the two of you? I stated that I believe that society should hold it's political officials/leaders accountable for such blatantly racially insensitive comments.

@ kaa977 - I find it a little sad (but it speaks directly to my initial comment) that you can assume that I am Muslim simply because I have an issue with something relating to Muslim culture. I am not Muslim however that does not silence me or lessen my empathy or disappointment in a society that could ignore or diminish the blatantly discriminatory comments of someone else.

Just as some 'food for thought' here is the pretty well know statement by Martin Niemöller about the apathy of German intellectuals during the Nazi uprising (maybe you have not heard it before):

"First they came for the communists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.

Then they came for me,

and there was no one left to speak for me."

Just because this mans statements didn't offend you or your culture directly does not mean there should be any less of an outcry against his unprofessional and discriminatory statement.
04:58 March 10, 2013 by kellyvanrijn
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:34 March 10, 2013 by grainofsand
@ kellyvanrijn - I would like to see the statistics behind what you just stated because that seems to be highly unlikely. Aside from that I don't see what you are trying to add to this conversation with your comment. Are you trying to imply that all Muslims are murderers because in my opinion that is the message it seems you are trying to convey.

So i'll leave you with these:


- stereotype: a set of inaccurate, simplistic generalizations about a group that allows others to categorize them and treat them accordingly

- racism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
13:22 March 10, 2013 by oddsock
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:37 March 12, 2013 by Reason and Realism
@ GrainofSand

Like many politically correct posters you appear to be incapable of distinguishing the difference between 'mildly inappropriate' and 'completely inappropriate'.

What happened is as old as mankind itself, which is oldtimers privately having mild fun amongst themselves at the disorientation of newcomers to an area or to an institution.

I have 'non white' friends who make this kind of joke about newly arrived taxi drivers in Stockholm (both 'white' and 'non-white') who are so disoriented that they need a GPS to find their way from Gamla Stan to T-Centralen.

For the student to react in abject horror at being called a Muslim could make this student appear (in the eyes of some) to be as xenophobic as the professor may appear to you to be.

The professor made an inappropriate joke in a private email to a colleague, and he obviously was not sufficiently cautious when sending it. If the student was insulted by the email, then it would have been more appropriate to first arrange to meet with the Professor and the Dean privately, and/or to request a letter of apology, and to only resort to informing the press (which essentially blackmails the University into suspending the professor, for PR reasons) if his request for an apology was dismissed or refused.
20:43 March 12, 2013 by RationalLogicial
@ kaa977

"Oh my God! Let's declare a head hunt on the guy or burn the university down. Something similar to the Danish cartoons saga. I am sure then all the Muslims will be loved."

Can you make yourself thinking lil bit NOT EXTREMIST ????

"If Sweden is such a horrible racist country, why move there? Isn't better to stay home and fight the wars you created yourselves?"

When you are going to stop selling weapons to these countries, so that they can make peace in their country?

When you are going to stop INVADE them and start entering in their country by knocking the doors like they do???

"And if someone was religiously insensitive, so what? Get over it! The Swedish tax payers helped and SAVED hundreds of thousands of your Muslim brothers and will be paying for your education."

Can you help me to understand how you are trying to influence their beliefs and thoughts IN THEIR COUNTRIES by selling weapons and invading them by being a part of NATO??

Can you help me to understand HOW it makes justified that a weapon sold by you KILLS 1000 and you save 1???

Can you help me to understand the Money which you pay as TAX is not from selling weapons to these countries????

Can you help me to understand the ways you are not pulling out their money by investing there in their countries????

Can you help me to understand if you still offer FREE studies to these countries any more????

"And I am 100% certain this so-called future student will never leave Sweden once his so-called education is completed and would constantly complain how racist and horrible Sweden is."

DO you have any such statistics that these "so-called future students" stay in your country WITHOUT being offered any position by indigenous swedes?

Real problem with you is that you can not distinguish between asylum seekers and the students who enter your home by knocking your door with GUEST visa.

And further more, you are not literate in terms why people do asylum in your home and what is connection between invasion, weapons, economy sucking AND asylum.
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