“Hello Anneli, can you help Muhammad? He’s probably come straight from Mecca,” wrote Swedish lecturer and local Centre Party politician Hans-Erik Hellborg after receiving a request for guidance from newly admitted student Merhan Mahmoudi.
However, the email never went to the colleague, as Hellborg apparently hit the reply button by mistake, instead sending the note to Mahmoudi.
“I was shocked and disappointed. This is unacceptable,” the 23-year-old, who was inquiring about how to register for a course at Dalarna University (Högskolan Dalarna), told the TT news agency.
Mahmoudi uploaded a screenshot of the email exchange to Facebook, which prompted the creation of an online group calling for the fumbling teacher’s resignation.
Hellsborg, meanwhile, has quickly backtracked and referred to the incident as a joke.
“It was a bad, crude joke,” he told the Nyheter24.se news website.
“I wrote back to him: ‘I’m truly sorry – it was an error of judgement. It was supposed to be taken as a joke, but unfortunately it wasn’t funny at all. I apologize. Welcome to the course.'”
Hellborg’s attempt at being funny, however, has caused university officials to react.
“We’re following our procedures and we’re conducting an investigation that we hope won’t take too long,” Högskolan Dalarna principal Marita Hilliges told Sveriges Television.
“Until we have concluded our investigation, he has been relieved of teaching duties.”