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The first page of the first issue of Aftonbladet
Aftonbladet (Swedish for The Evening Sheet) is a Swedishmarker tabloid founded by Lars Johan Hierta in 1830 during the modernization of Sweden. Today the newspaper labels itself as independent Social Democrat. It is one of the larger daily newspapers in the Nordic countries, although not the largest (as has sometimes been reported) as the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat has a larger circulation. Aftonbladet is owned by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) and Norwegianmarker media group Schibsted. In 2006 the paper had 1,425,000 daily readers (Orvesto research 2005:2), circa 15% of the Swedish population.


When it was first published in 1830 by Lars Johan Hierta, it was a tabloid that reported news and also criticised the new Swedish king Charles XIV John. The king stopped Aftonbladet from being printed and banned it, this was answered by starting the new newspaper "Det andra Aftonbladet" (The second Aftonbladet), which was subsequently banned, followed by new versions named in similar fashion until the newspaper had been renamed 26 times, after which it was allowed by the king.

During its existence, Aftonbladet has leant in different political directions. Initially liberal, it drifted towards conservatism under Harald Sohlman, Editor in Chief from 1890 to 1921. During World War I, a majority holding was sold to the German government in a secret arrangement.

In 1929 the newspaper came under the control of the Kreuger family, when a majority of the shares was bought by Swedish Match, at that time the heart of Ivar Kreuger's corporate empire. Aftonbladet was labeled "neutral". In 1932 it backed Per Albin Hansson's new Social Democratic government. Just a few years later it realigned with the Liberal Party and turned to advocate liberal politics. Heavily influenced by pro-German staff members, the newspaper supported Germany during World War II.

The Kreuger era came to an end on 8 October 1956. Despite interest from both the Liberal Party and the Centre Party, Torsten Kreuger sold Aftonbladet to the Swedish Trade Union Confederation. The ownership change was first followed by a slight drop in circulation. In the 1960s, however, the newspaper saw its circulation surge rapidly, peaking at 507,000.

By the early 1990s Aftonbladet had run into economical problems, and many had begun to question the competence of the trade union movement as a media owner. On 2 May 1996, the Norwegian media group Schibsted acquired a 49.9 percent stake in the newspaper. The Swedish Trade Union Confederation kept the remaining 50.1 percent of its shares. The same year, its circulation passed that of long-time tabloid rival Expressen. As per June 15, 2009, Schibstedt bought another 41% and is now the majority owner by 91%.

Internet publishing

Aftonbladet adopted Internet publishing early on. It has been published on the world wide web since August 25, 1994, and the main news service is free. Since its inception, has consistently been rated as one of the five most visited Swedish web sites in various surveys. is also, according to itself, the most visited news site in Europe.


The journalistic quality of Aftonbladet has sometimes been questioned. In late 2006, the newspaper's own journalist Peter Kadhammar directed criticism at the fact that his own paper appears to treat the love life of Swedish tabloid celebrity Linda Rosing as equally important to the war in Iraqmarker.

The Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman claimed that Aftonbladet was the main media force behind echoing his alleged financial misdeeds, which finally led to Bergman's self-imposed exile to Munichmarker in the 1970s. In his memoir book Laterna Magica, Bergman called Aftonbladet a rubbish yellow paper which had deliberately aimed to tarnish his reputation.

Controversy surrounding Israel and Jews

In recent years, several critics has argued that content published in Aftonbladet that contains harsh criticism of Israel, sometimes also contain content or is presented in a way that could be seen as bordering to — or as a direct expression of — antisemitism. Per Ahlmark, former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and founder of the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism, writes in his 2004 book Det är demokratin, dumbom! ("It's the Democracy, Stupid!"): "Aftonbladet is of course worst among the big newspapers when it comes to both playing on antisemitic strings and then denying that they have done so".

Jonathan Leman (a member of the editorial board of the Swedish anti-racist magazine Expo) and columnist Charlotte Wiberg wrote an article on Newsmill in August 2009 where they criticised what they described as "Aftonbladet's problematic attitude towards the Jews, both when it comes to purported criticism of Israel as well as in other contexts". In the article, they further wrote: "Is Aftonbladet an antisemitic newspaper? No, but it seems that since the 1980s they [Aftonbladet] sometimes appear both blind and deaf in front of the expressions of antisemitism, which sometimes makes the newspaper "skid" [Swedish: slirar] in a way that few other newspapers do. The publishing of Boström's article [see the section below] unfortunately don't appears to be an accident at work, but rather seems to be in line of a larger pattern".

Leman and Wiberg then gave several examples of what the see as this "pattern", among those:

  • When Israel invaded Lebanon during the 1982 Lebanon War, Israel was accused in several articles in Aftonbladet — according to Leman and Wiberg — of perpetrating a "repeating" of the Holocaust. In a picture published in an article on 17 June 1982, then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was portrayed as a Jewish Angel of Death, followed by the caption: "And on that night I want to cross the land of the Palestinians and beat all first-born of both humans and creatures and perform my punishment on all of the Palestinans' Gods, I the lord".

  • An editorial article published in Aftonbladet on 1 April 2002 was controversially titled Den korsfäste Arafat ("The Crucified Arafat"), which critics considered a reference to the Jewish deicide (an antisemitic canard that places the responsibility for the death of Jesus on the Jewish people as a whole). Aftonbladet dismissed the criticism in an editorial and referred to it as a "trivialization" of "one of the most repulsive ideologies of our time (antisemitism)". The editorial further pointed to an article in the Spanish newspaper El Pais at the sime time, which had the same title in Spanish (La crucifixión de Yasser Arafat).

  • In a column by Aftonbladet motor journalist Robert Collin published on January 3, 2006, Collin blamed what he referred to as the "Jewish lobby" for what some perceive as the less frequent use of the word "Christmas" in the United Statesmarker (see Christmas controversy): "Christmas is approaching, but the word is seldomly heard. Instead of Christmas people say "Hollyday" [sic]. It's the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States that considers the word "Christmas" to have a Christian undertone (well, that one can agree upon, wasn't it at that time Jesus Christ was born?)".

    When a reader criticised Collin's assertion by arguing that the Jews as a group have no more to with the debate on Christmas in the United States "than intellectuals, Muslims, atheists, journalists, socialists, liberals etc", Collin responded to the reader by saying that "the only lobby group among those that you mention that has a real influence in the United States, is the Jews".

2009 Aftonbladet-Israel controversy

In August 2009, Aftonbladet ran an article alleging that in 1992 the Israeli Defense Force took organs from Palestinians who died in Israeli custody. The allegations were denied by Israel. The article caused a diplomatic row between Israel and Sweden.

See also


  1. Aftonbladet blev starten för den fria pressen i Sverige from, accessed on 11 July, 2007.
  2. Hierta, the founder of Aftonbladet, created the free press in Sweden from, accessed on 24 August, 2009
  3. [
  4. Aftonbladet: "Our sons are plundered of their organs"

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