Swedish editor resigns in ‘racist’ press subsidy row

swe-kronor-littleThe editor-in-chief of the Swedish newspaper Fokus, has resigned from his position on the Press Subsidies Council after an extreme-rightwing newspaper was awarded state funds.

The decision to provide a 2.3 million kronor (USD 319,000) state press subsidy to the highly xenophobic National Today newspaper, run by the National Democrats, has led Fokus editor, Martin Ahlquist to demand changes to the council’s distribution guidelines.

“The decision is in line with established rules stating that the council cannot take a newspaper’s content into account. If tax money is given to the spread of racism then it is a clear signal to me that the rules are wrong,” wrote Ahlquist on the Fokus website.

Ahlquist, who had a seat on the council which allocates SEK 483 million (USD 67 million) to some 80 publications each year, argued that “racism is not diversity,” and pointed out that national radio and television stations are not permitted to broadcast anything that could “spread hatred or insult”. “I cannot stand behind a regulatory framework which functions in this way and so I have thus resigned from the council,” Ahlquist wrote online.

National Today was granted SEK 699,583 (USD 97,000) last year, in addition to SEK 1.679 million (USD 23 million) for 2010, reports The Local. The grant was not made with unanimous support, however, with one council member querying whether National Today could be classified as a “general newspaper that has the publication of regular general news as its primary function”.

The National Democrats enjoy little public support in Sweden and blame the majority of the country’s problems on immigration.

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