If all publicity is good publicity, then the @Sweden Twitter account is admirably succeeding at bringing attention to the Nordic country, and helping to promote tourism to it, just as it was set up to do.
The @Sweden Twitter account, created and overseen by the Swedish Institute and VisitSweden, is unique in that a different Swedish citizen is given the reins of the account each week to make posts about Sweden and their lives as they see fit. In previous weeks, the tweets have been handled by a female priest, an 18 year old living with his parents, and a lesbian truck driver, among others.
This week it was 27 year old blogger Sonja Abrahamsson’s turn, who stated in her CuratorsofSweden.com bio that she would “tweet about my thoughts and being me, about having children and living my life and what not”.
Apparently that ‘what not’ included making questionable tweets about Jews, as she’s kicked off a firestorm of controversy through some of her recent tweets.
In one tweet, she mused “Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a Jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?”
She followed that up by tweeting “In nazi German they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never now who was a jew and who was not a jew.”
The tweets were quickly denounced by Twitter users inside and outside of Sweden, and even drew the attention of U.S comedian Stephen Colbert, who requested that his many rabid fans convince those overseeing the @Sweden account to put him in charge of it for a week, and that he “knew what the fuzz about Jews was.”
Despite the controversy and backlash, VisitSweden’s marketing director, Maria Ziv, said the tweets would not be removed, as they were not deemed to be racist. Likewise, Sergio Guimaraes, media relations manager for the Swedish Institute came to Sonja’s defense and the defense of the Twitter account, stating that freedom of speech is a core value of Swedish society, and that is reflected in how the account is run.
For her part, Sonja later tweeted an apology in response to the backlash, tweeting that “Im sorry if some of you find the question offensive. Thats was not my purpose. I just don’t get why some people hates jews so much.”