State prosecutors won’t be pressing charges against Norwegian comedian Atle Antonsen, who made offensive remarks against Norwegian-Somalian author and activist Sumaya Jirde Ali last autumn. Antonsen claimed he never meant to be racist, even after telling her during an encounter in a crowded bar that she was “too dark-skinned” to be a patron.
Newspaper VG reported Friday that prosecutors have described Antonsen’s remarks as “an unsuccessful attempt at satire over racism.” They opted against formally charging him but that was appealed by Norway’s Antiracism Center. Now state attorneys have prevailed in their belief that a formal case against Antonsen wouldn’t hold up in court. Antonsen’s defense attorney told VG that the 53-year-old comedian is “relieved” that the state attorney’s office believed his explanation.
The incident at the night spot Bar Boca in Oslo’s popular Grünerløkka district generated lots of headlines and set off public debate over “everyday racism” in Norway. Ali herself declined immediate comment on how the state has dropped any court case against Antonsen, who already has been publicly scorned and withdrawn from his role on a Norwegian humor program on TV.