The digital Arab Book Fair, originally intended as part of the Malmö Fair this spring, but moved online amid the onslaught of the coronavirus, has landed in hot water for peddling anti-Semitic literature.
Among others, the Arab Book Fair sold “The Synagogue of Satan – the Secret History of Jewish World Domination” by Holocaust denier Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, the newspaper Expressen reported.
Malmö municipality, which has invested SEK 150,000 ($17,000) in the project, is now ending its collaboration with the group and expects the Swedish National Council for Culture, which also contributed SEK 150,000, to do the same.
Malmö municipality cultural director Pernilla Conde Hellman called it "completely unacceptable". "It goes against everything we stand for and we therefore choose to immediately terminate the cooperation", she told Expressen.
“We have freedom of expression in Sweden. But when you receive support from the city of Malmö, you sign the values we have and that does not include that you may spread anti-Semitic literature,” she emphasised to the Sydsvenskan daily.
The City of Malmö will now review whether they can reclaim the grant that already been paid and lay out guidelines to avoid such situations in the future.
“Our cultural support and our collaborations are based on mutual trust. If you receive support from the city of Malmö, you must sign the values and conditions that exist to receive the money,” Conde Hellman said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish interest group, demanded action from Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.
The Arab Book Fair issued an official statement.
“It is a mistake that should not have happened. We were shocked when we realised what gross anti-Semitic content the book has and reacted with disgust,” the statement said, thanking those who raised awareness about its content and pledging better control routines for all the books that are for sale (this year over 2,500 books).
“The book violates our principles of rejecting anti-Semitism and respecting religions and beliefs,” the Arab Book Fair said.
Due to the corona pandemic, the planned fair was postponed until autumn, and as the pandemic is still rages on, the organisers announced last month that the fair would be held on the internet instead.
“The geographical base will be Malmö, where we will offer several events at libraries or other premises. But most of it will happen on our digital platform [Arabiskabokmassan.se]", its website said.
Owing to its massive Arabic diaspora, Malmö, Sweden's third-largest city, is also home to Malmö Arabic Film Festival.