Nobel Foundation snubs Swedish far-right leader

AP News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2010 1:31 PM
Nobel Foundation snubs Swedish far-right leader

The Nobel Foundation said Wednesday it will not invite the leader of a far-right political party to the Nobel Prize banquet in Stockholm along with other Swedish party heads because of his party's nationalist agenda.

The decision breaks with a tradition of inviting all party leaders to the lavish December banquet, which is also attended by hundreds of dignitaries and royals.

The foundation's executive director, Michael Sohlman, said the program of Jimmy Akesson's Sweden Democrats clashes completely with the will of industrialist Alfred Nobel, who established the prize.

The Sweden Democrats entered parliament for the first time this year after winning 20 seats in the Sept. 19 elections by calling for sharp cuts in immigration.

The party says it would be ideal for a country's population to be homogenous and that multicultural societies are unstable and prone to conflicts.

Sohlman said the banquet is a private party, "and we invite those who we want to invite."

Nobel established the prize in his will and the first awards were handed out in 1901, five years after his death. They award achievements in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace and each prize includes 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.5 million), a diploma and a gold medal. A separate prize in the memory of Alfred Nobel was later established in the field of economics.

Nobel's will says that no consideration should be made to any kind of national identity, Sohlman said.

"You just need to read the Sweden Democrats' party program, which stipulates the opposite," he said. "They are two principles that clash completely."

"Nobel's will reflects certain values and he was a cosmopolitan himself," he added.

Akesson told The Associated Press he was surprised the foundation made a political stand using Nobel's name.

"I have read Nobel's will and there is nothing there about how many immigrants one should be prepared to accept to go to the Nobel banquet," Akesson said. "It says that anyone should be able to receive the award independently of their nationality and we have no opinions on that."

"It would have been fun to go if I had received an invitation," he added.

The banquet will be held after the award ceremony on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.