Children’s book and sexy beer label too much for prudish Swedes

Publisher pulls children’s book ‘Mustafa’s Kiosk’ and a cartoon woman on a beer label gets censored by authorities

In the past week, a popular Danish children's book was pulled from Swedish shelves and a Danish beer label was censored by Swedish authorities for being too racy.

A Swedish translation of Jakob Martin Strid's children's book 'Mustafas kiosk' was pulled by publishers Kabusa Böckers after an outraged customer posted a message on the company's Facebook page asking: "Should children really learn rhymes with the help of Islamophobia?" The reader felt that the book portrayed negative stereotypes of Muslim men.

'Mustafas kiosk' was released in 1999 and its Swedish translation came out in 2002 (Jakob Martin Strid)The book was released in Sweden back in 2002, and before the angry Facebook post, its publisher said it hadn't received any complaints over the past eleven years.

"It was many years ago. It was a book that came out in many countries and, if I remember right, won some awards," publisher Kerstin Aronsson told Swedish public broadcaster SVT. "No-one thought of it as racist back then."

After the initial complaint, others poured in and Kabusa Böckers pulled the book from shelves. 

Strid, who is best known for his long-running comic strip in Politiken newspaper, said the racism claim was "totally idiotic". 

"The book is a loving, inclusive and humorous storytelling of an immigrant seen from a child's eyes," he wrote in a letter to SVT. "Look at the pictures – there are both black and white children."

Erlend Loe, who is behind the Norwegian translation of the book, agreed with Strid that the Swedes were being too uptight. He told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK that it was embarrassing that the Swedes pulled the book, which he said presented fun rhymes for children with a "humorous play on stereotypes."

Danish beer too lusty

If decade-old children's books weren't enough for the poor Swedes to worry about, they also had to contend with a new Danish beer with a sexy cartoon woman on the label.

The beer ‘Lust’ was released by the brewery Amager Bryghus as part of a series on the seven deadly sins.

Amager Bryghus's Lust beer for Danes (left) and for Swedes (right)Swedish authorities have objected to the label, which bears a cartoon image of a naked woman submerged in water, and have blacked her out on bottles sold through the state-owned alcohol retailer, Systembolaget.

Lennart Agen, head of press at Systembolaget – which has a monopoly on the sale of alcohol in Sweden – explained that linking sex and alcohol was not permitted.

“In this case we judged that the label and the name ‘Lust’ can clearly be associated with sex, desire and sexual success,” Agen told Sydsvenskan.

The brewery found the Swedes' decision much ado about nothing.

“We think it’s a bit silly and it is only adults over the age of 20 who can buy alcohol in the Systemnolaget, anyway. We’re not marketing the beer at children,” Amager Bryghus spokesperson Henrik Papsøe told TV2.

The authorities also chose to black out some text on the label that Papsøe had written that included the tongue-in-cheek phrase: “We have brewed a beer with the most sensual sugars we could find in Netto and then we spiced it with well-known aphrodisiacs such as Spanish fly, oysters and powdered deer penis.”