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Malmö anti-Semitism made Danish star leave The Bridge

A spike in anti-Jewish sentiment in the Swedish city that plays host to much of the action in The Bridge contributed to Kim Bodnia’s decision to leave the show, the actor told an Israeli TV station.

Malmö anti-Semitism made Danish star leave The Bridge
Kim Bodnia. Photo: Malthe Risager Jørgensen, DR

Fans of the Swedish-Danish co-production were devastated when it was announced that the Danish detective Martin Rohde would be written out of the show. 

Bodnia was a huge hit with viewers, but the Dane said he wanted out as he was unhappy with the script and his character’s development. 

Speaking to Walla in Israel, the 50-year-old actor, who is Jewish, has now revealed that anti-Semitism was another reason for ditching the crime drama that has wowed audiences worldwide:

“It’s growing, especially in Malmö where we shot The Bridge in Sweden. It’s not very comfortable to be there as a Jewish person. So of course this has something to do with why it’s easy for me to say no to working in Sweden.”

Bodnia said he also thought the actors were given too little input into their character development in the third season. But if he had any hesitation about leaving, the decision was made easier by anti-Jewish developments in Sweden’s third-largest city. 

“It’s very easy, when they didn’t have the script right, I can say: Well, I don’t feel so safe there. It’s not funny, it’s growing and we have to deal with it every day and we have to fight against it,” said Bodnia, who also noted that Denmark faced similar challenges. 

With Rohde out of the frame, the eccentric Malmö cop Saga Norén instead had to get used to working with a new partner from the other side of the Öresund strait in the third season of The Bridge, which aired in Scandinavia late last year. 

An escalation in hate crimes against Jews has seen many families leave Sweden in recent years.  

The head of the Swedish Jewish Community, Lena Posner-Körösi, told The Local in the wake of last year’s terror attacks in Copenhagen that threats from Islamists in particular had become commonplace. 

Heavily armed police were stationed outside Jewish institutions across Sweden amid fears of attacks (see video below). 

US President Barack Obama even sent a special envoy to Stockholm and Malmö to see how Swedish cities were dealing with threats to Jews. 

Lena Posner-Körösi welcomed that move, telling The Local:

“What we are facing now is not just an issue for the Jewish community, it is a threat to the whole western democratic world…we appreciate everyone who is concerned.”

YOUTUBE

Here’s PewDiePie’s message to critics after anti-Semitism controversy

Three days after Disney severed ties with PewDiePie over anti-Semitism accusations, the Swedish YouTube star posted a new video apologizing for the joke – and hitting back at his critics.

Here's PewDiePie's message to critics after anti-Semitism controversy
Felix Kjellberg, also known as PewDiePie. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, is the world's highest paid YouTuber with more than 53 million subscribers and videos totalling more than 14 billion views, more than anybody else on the site.

But the 27-year-old's success was interrupted this week after Disney's Maker Studios, which had previously announced plans to put him in charge of his own YouTube network, told the Wall Street Journal it had decided to drop him following a series of videos containing jokes about Nazi imagery, including one of him paying two men to hold up a sign saying “Death to all Jews”.

PewDiePie had already responded to some of the criticism of that clip, saying he had intended to “show how crazy the modern world is”, but on Thursday he posted a new video calling the Wall Street Journal's article of him a “personal attack”.

“I'm still here, I'm still making videos. Nice try, Wall Street Journal. Try again, motherf***ers,” he says in the clip, kissing his middle finger.

However, he also apologizes: “I'm sorry for the words I used, as I know they offended people, and I admit that the joke itself went too far.”

News of Disney's decision to cut its ties with the star quickly grabbed global headlines this week, with some of his critics accusing him of acting like fascism is cool and normalizing racism and hate.

In response to the above tweet by author JK Rowling, PewDiePie says in the video: “A personal attack like this to portray me as anti-Semitic is doing no one a favour. You're targeting some Swedish guy that tries to be funny, most of the time it doesn't really go well. Very offensive, but he means well.”

“Is there any hate in what I do? No, there's not. Personally, I think they are the ones normalizing hatred. Because, there is actual hatred out there. There's actual issues. Instead of celebrating my show getting cancelled, why don't we focus on that?” he adds.

At the end of the video he appears to tear up thanking his fans for their support. “Finally, I want to give the warmest thanks to everyone who supported me. It's been incredible to see. Thank you, everyone in the YouTube community. It means a lot, thank you.”

A spokesperson for Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, said the company stood by its reporting.