In an open letter to Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask, author Jonas Hassen Khemiri describes how he and his family repeatedly have experienced racism in Sweden (Hassen Khemiri was born in 1978 in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and a Tunisian father). In the letter Khemiri asks the minister to change skin color with him for 24 hours, so that she can for herself experience the kind of racism Khemiri says is prevalent in Sweden today.

The letter, below, did not go unanswered by other writers from immigrant families and as it seems, not everyone agrees with Khemiri's stance Jonas, my friend by Bosnian Swedish Jasenko Selimović and Swedish-Italian poet, author, columnist and second-generation immigrant, Marcus Birro:We are in this dream together


“You will borrow my skin in order to understand that when you get out into the streets, down into the subway, and into the mall and see police there with the Law on their side, with the right to approach you and ask you to prove your innocence, then that will bring back memories. Other injustices, other uniforms, other looks. And no, we don’t have to go as far as to Nazi Germany or South Africa in the 1980’s. It’s enough with our recent Swedish history, a string of random experiences that our joint body will remember.” Hassen Khemiri continues to list a string of such experiences, from seeing dark-haired men as criminals who rape and beat women, and being chased by skinheads at age ten, to being caught by police simply because of his color.

“Bästa Beatrice” (Dear Beatrice) has now become a so-called hashtag on Twitter (#BästaBeatrice) – a hashtag can be described as a label used to collect everything that’s written concerning a certain topic in the same flow – where now a thousand people have shared their experiences of racism in Sweden. Late in the week it was still one of the most used hashtags on Swedish Twitter. It was Arman Maroufkhani, persianlikecat on Twitter, who took the initiative to create #BästaBeatrice. People have commented on how they, or people they know, have been badly treated because of the way they look. In the flow there’s also sharp criticism against the Reva (Rättssäkert och effektivt verkställighetsarbete) project, which has been called racial profiling.

Our interview with author Jonas Hassan Khemiri after his debut novel "One Eye Red" was released: Caught between 'kanelbullar' and baklava