Flying the flag of ISIS is not against the law in Sweden, and doesn’t count as “hate speech”, a prosecutor has decided.
Authorities in the European country decided to drop plans to take a man to court for displaying the jihadist symbol because he was being equally hateful to everybody.
Gisela Sjövall, a prosecutor in the town of Laholm, said that indiscriminate hatred is not covered by the Swedish law, which requires a particular group of people to be the target.
Islamic State (ISIS) flag is legal in Sweden, prosecutor ruleshttps://t.co/2OeH1TGHZs
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 17, 2016
The flag by itself is not enough to constitute an offence – unlike the swastika, which is illegal to fly due to its antisemitic connotations, she said.
In an interview with Swedish TV, translated by The Local, she expanded, saying: “If there had been anything in the text [posted alongside the flag] with more specific formulations about certain groups, for example homosexuals, the ruling could have been different.”
“For me, there are no doubts about the decision not to prosecute.”
In this case, the suspect had shown the flag on his Facebook page rather than flying a physical version – but her logic is equally applicable to a real-life flag.
Earlier in the dispute, the defendant – anonymous under Swedish law – claimed that he did not support ISIS and was simply expressing his religion.
The distinctive black-and-white imagery shows includes the Arabic text of the shahada Islamic creed, which states “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger”.
The defendant argued that ISIS has hijacked the symbol, and he is entitled to fly it – though that argument will now not be tested in court.
Despite its small population, Sweden is a hotbed of European jihadism, and has exported some 300 fighters to ISIS territory – as shown in this graphic by Radio Free Europe (hover over countries for more detail):
The figure – which equates to 32 fighters per million – makes Sweden the second-most fertile ground for ISIS recruiters, second only to Belgium, where 46 citizens per million have joined.
Around a third of Sweden’s jihadists are thought to have returned to the country.