Stand-up comedian Soran Ismail has been asked to take a "timeout" from Swedish Radio.
opera singer cancels radio appearance

Comedian's radio "timeout" causes upset

Swedish Radio's impartiality rules have been called into question after stand-up comedian Soran Ismail agreed to take a "timeout" from his job as radio show side-kick up until after the general election in September. Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman reacted in protest by cancelling a Friday night appearance on a Swedish Radio programme.

On Friday, opera singer Malena Ernman cancelled a scheduled appearance on Swedish Radio programme, Karlavagnen, in protest. She tweeted on Twitter:" "I ​​am anti-racist and anti-Sweden Democrat and therefore cannot agree to participate in tonight's P4 Karlavagnen". 

On Thursday evening, Swedish Radio director general Cilla Benkö answered the critics who have taken issue with the agreement between the company and Ismail, a vocal anti-racist and critic of the xenophobic Sweden Democrat Party.

Benkö took part in Swedish Television debate programme Debatt, where she said that "a person who publicly takes a position for or against a political party cannot at the same time have a prominent role in a Swedish Radio show during an election campaign".

The stricter impartiality rules that Benkö referred to come into force across the Swedish Radio, including Radio Sweden, on February 25th.

In an op-ed for tabloid Expressen published before Debatt aired, Ismail said that he and Swedish Radio had reached a mutual decision that he would take a break from his part-time job as host for a popular morning show on the P3 radio station.

Faced with the decision either to continue working on the show between February and September or to continue during that time with his stand-up appearances and podcast, in which he often criticises the Sweden Democrats, the comedian chose to take a break from his radio job.

Ismail said that, for him, it was an obvious decision but he added: "You could also ask yourself whether it is unproblematic to be forced to be impartial towards a party which our own regulator has labelled as xenophobic in order to work at Swedish Radio."

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