Centre Party forgives prof's Muhammad email

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Centre Party forgives prof's Muhammad email

A local politician and university lecturer who sent a racist email to a student has been readmitted to the Centre Party in Rättvik, central Sweden.


"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.

"It was a bad, crude joke," he told the 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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