A Swedish TV show for children, "Lilla Aktuellt," that airs on the country's state channel released an episode on Oct. 15 on Turkey's Operation Peace Spring. The show's premise is to present events and affairs in a child-friendly manner, however, it was used as a propaganda tool to spread anti-Turkish sentiment and has led to discrimination against children belonging to the Turkish community.
Around 10 minutes of the show on Operation Peace Spring portrayed the Turks as conducting an offensive against the Kurds and not terrorists. This episode on the Swedish state channel showcasing Turkey as an invading country by misconstruing facts was released all over primary schools in Sweden.
Sweden has a significant Turkish community and airing such a show in schools resulted in discrimination in society, particularly toward children. Many Turkish children reported that their classmates mocked them for being Turkish, while the teachers supported such an attitude by promoting the show and remaining silent in the face of discriminatory actions. As expected, parents took action against this propaganda by the Swedish state by writing letters of protest to the TV station.
"Last week, my son, who is 8, came to me and asked if Turkey was a killer country. When I asked him where he heard such a thing, he told me that one of his friends told him that Turkey was killing children," said the mother, who wanted to remain anonymous due to security concerns. She added that she was shocked to hear such things from her son since these kinds of issues have never been talked about in their household.
"We would not talk about such things in our house. Especially with an eight-year-old, we would never mention such things. We think it is too early to discuss such serious topics with a child. So, I became really concerned when I heard him talking about these topics," the mother said. She then spoke with the administration of the school, who said they would never allow children to watch such programs.
"The same day I sent a letter of protest to the Swedish state channel. They responded to me with a one-line letter. I don't know what will happen next, I am concerned," she said.
The Turkish Embassy in Stockholm also released a statement on the issue on its Facebook page, saying that they had issued a protest letter to the TV station and demanded an apology. "We will closely follow the case and will inform our citizens about it," said the embassy. The embassy's post received major attention from concerned Turkish parents, many revealing their children's experiences with discrimination.
"They showed this program in class. The other children pointed at my daughter and mocked her by saying 'Look! This is your country!' She started to cry. I went to the administration of the schools and said that this was discrimination. However, of course, the teacher tried to justify himself by mumbling something," an angry mother wrote in the comments section of the post.
Another mother said the day the program was shown, she had a parent-teacher meeting at the school. However, when she went to school, she found her daughter crying.
"I asked her why she was crying. She told me that she was upset because of what she saw on Lilla Aktuellt. Last week, a friend of my daughter told her to not to be sad for what her country does and said that instead she should be angry at her country and be ashamed for it," she said, adding that many of her Turkish acquaintances in the country, whether in schools or jobs, are now struggling with verbal violence and pressure due to such dark propaganda. "I condemn the Swedish politicians and media that tricks the Swedish people by portraying Turkey as a killer," she added.
"When my son came home from school, he told me that he was born in Sweden so he is Swedish. They are brainwashing our children," a father said.
Another mother said that she was in shock to hear that her 7-year-old child came to her and asked why Turkey kills people.
"I asked her where she learned such a thing, she told me they watched 'Lilla Aktuellt.' I watched the show and I was horrified," she said. Going to the administration of the school immediately, the mother said they could not show such discriminatory material to children like this. "I told him that we are brothers and sisters with the Kurds and Turkey does not kill Kurds but terrorists. I told him to stop dividing children as Turks and Kurds. He told me that this is a children's program. I responded saying that he should watch it first and decide later," said the mother.