Sweden’s landmark conviction for inciting ethnic hatred

Sweden's landmark conviction

For the first time in Sweden, a man has been found guilty of inciting ethnic hatred through a sacrilegious act he committed in 2020. This landmark conviction comes in the wake of a series of sacrilegious incidents earlier this year, which sparked international outrage and placed Sweden under increased scrutiny. The country’s intelligence agency raised its terrorism alert level due to these events.

While the Swedish government denounced these acts, it consistently upheld the nation’s robust freedom of expression laws.

In the central Swedish district of Linkoping, the 27-year-old man was convicted by the district court for “agitation against an ethnic group.” The court’s ruling emphasised that his actions specifically targeted Muslims rather than Islam as a religion. The court also noted that his conduct did not promote an objective and responsible debate.

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In September 2020, he had filmed a video outside the Linkoping cathedral, depicting the burning of the Holy Quran and bacon on a barbecue, with derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) displayed on a sign beneath the grill. He shared this video on social media platforms.

The video also used the song “Remove Kebab,” which is popular among far-right groups and advocates for the religious cleansing of Muslims. The court drew attention to the fact that this music was strongly associated with the 2019 attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, where an Australian white supremacist killed 51 people in two mosques.

The court ultimately ruled that the music and content of the video left no room for interpretation other than as a threat to Muslims with clear disdain for their faith.

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