Irish Man Flees Sweden After Threats for Questioning Pandemic Response

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Keith Begg and his husband Cristian Pettersson are pictured in Dalarna County, north of Stockholm. - Courtesy of Keith Begg.

In Sweden, an Irish man has been forced to flee the country for his very safety, after he criticised the Scandanavian country’s handling of the pandemic.

Keith Begg posted his opinions on a private Facebook group, which vexed some people, and which then in turned gained radio publicity.

He’s since been accused of threatening democracy, while being threatened and having his personal safety compromised, so much so, that he felt he had to leave the country to protect himself and his family.

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Keith from Limerick relocated to Stockholm to be with his partner seven years ago.

As the virus spread, Begg said the sense of national unity that he was told of in Ireland was absent in his adopted city, where the attitude was practically “hedonistic.”

There were packed bars, packed restaurants and cafes. The attitude here was just simply, ‘Sure, we might as well go out because we’re going to get the virus anyway.’”

There were packed bars, packed restaurants and cafes. The attitude here was just simply, ‘Sure, we might as well go out because we’re going to get the virus anyway.’”

Frustrated by the Swedish government’s approach, Begg set up a focus group of medical experts, teachers, parents and human rights activists to counteract the government’s stance.

This came at a cost however. Friends on Facebook sent him hate messages, while former colleagues blocked him. Begg says he has lost nearly all of his Swedish friends, some he has known for over 20 years.

They think I’m crazy. So many of us expats have been seen as hysterical. We’ve had every expletive thrown at us.”

Begg believes the Swedish government’s strategy is driven primarily by economics, and the result, he says, is a society which is both “morally and ethically bankrupt.”

He has been socially isolating with his husband Cristian Pettersson since March.