“It’s so horrible you almost can’t believe it’s true,” complained Pia Jönsson, whose husband Magnus Heberlein works for a local anti-racism group, in a post on Facebook.
“What kind of message are you sending to customers? How can you play into the hands of racists in such a disgusting way.”
According to Jönsson, the management at Burlövs center, just outside Malmö had commissioned UNITY Burlov, and Ungdomsgruppen Burlov, two local youth groups, to paint the murals, which were intended to express the diversity of he local area.
But when the hijab started to appear, the group painting the mural were called in to a meeting and informed that the hijab was not acceptable, as the shopping centre was secular and did not want to display religious symbols.
“The young people are angry and sad. They have grown up in this municipality, and are proud of its diversity and want to show it off as something beautiful. But they have been trampled on.”
The London-based Grosvenor Fund Management, which owns the shopping centre, put out a press release on Saturday apologising for what had happened.
“We apologise that a mural of a woman in a hijab was considered a religious symbol and was therefore altered,” it wrote. “That the picture was changed was unfortunate.”
“For us it is important to welcome all customers regardless of their religion, ethnicity or sex.”
The story was first reported by Swedish public broadcaster SVT.