A Brussels-based anti-racism group has condemned Swedish culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth for cutting a “racist” cake at a Stockholm art museum, demanding the government issue a formal public apology.
“This incident is deeply insulting to people who suffer racist taunts on a daily basis and to women affected by female genital mutilation,” Chibo Onyeji, chair of the Brussels-based European Network Against Racism (ENAR) wrote in a letter to prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
“If no action is taken, the Swedish Government will clearly be sending the message that racist prejudices are socially and legally acceptable.”
The letter, released on Thursday, is the latest protest against Adelsohn Liljeroth for her involvement with an art installation by artist Makode Linde at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in which she cut into a cake depicting a naked black woman.
According to ENAR, the cake was a “stereotypical racist representation of a black woman” which is indicative of an increase in “Afrophobia” in Sweden.
The group also cited in 2011 incident at Lund University in which a group of students dressed up as African slaves for a costume party in what ENAR called “racist representations of the transatlantic slave trade”.
“ENAR’s 2010-11 Shadow Report on racism in Sweden also highlights an increase in Afrophobia in Sweden, including discrimination, harassment and hate crimes committed against people of African descent,” Onyeji warned.
The group urged the Swedish government to “at least make a public apology” for Adelsohn Liljeroth’s participation in what it called a “racist event” and to increase investment in anti-racist activities at the local and national level.
ENAR however stopped short of calling for the culture minister’s dismissal, a demand first made by the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) immediately following the April 15th incident.
While Adelsohn Liljeroth has expressed her regret over the incident and met with representatives from the association on Wednesday night, the Afro-Swedish Association remains firm in its call for her to step down.
Meanwhile, artist Makode Linde, who is was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and west-African father, has said that his installation has been misinterpreted, arguing neither he nor the minister are racists.
“That we live in a racist society and that I’m treated differently because of my skin colour is something I realized early in my life,” he wrote in an opinion article in the Aftonbladet newspaper.
“It’s only when hidden racism is made visible that it can destroyed. That’s what my work as an artist tries to highlight.”
By: David Landes/ The Local