Sweden: When incitement is allowed

The following are parts of an opinion article written by four Swedish Jews about a recent decision by the Swedish government not to investigate Muslim incitement against Jews in Sweden.

Discussions about the limits of freedom of expression are running high right now, not least because of the Muhammed cartoons in Danish Jyllandsposten. The EU Council states in a controversial message on the 27th February, that it acknowledges and regrets that these cartoons were considered offensive and distressing by Muslims across the world and that a spirit of respect for religious and other beliefs should prevail.

It is a crime in Sweden to express derogatory statements about ethnic, racial, national, religious and sexual minorities or to incite hatred and violence against them. Simultaneously the limits of what one can express in Sweden against Jews are being expanded gradually. All Jewish institutions in Sweden are being continuously guarded because of threats directed to Jewish individuals as well as to Jewish institutions, and the Jewish communities spend 25% of their budget on security.

The hate website Radio Islam continues to spew forth its coarse Anti-Semitism, spread lists of Jews (real or imagined) and conspiracy theories on its site without the security police or the prosecuting authorities doing anything about it. When the radical right-wing party the Sweden Democrats on the other hand, had one of the Muhammed cartoons on its web-site, it was closed down after a quick and direct intervention by an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At the beginning of this year, the Chancellor of Justice, Goran Lambertz, discontinued his preliminary investigation against the great mosque in Stockholm. Cassette tapes had been sold in the bookshop of the mosque with a violently Anti-Semitic contents. After a couple of broadcasts on the 26 and 27th November last year, the Stockholm mosque was reported to the police.

In his decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation Lambertz wrote that “the lecture at hand contains statements that are strongly degrading to Jews, among other things, they are throughout called brothers of apes and pigs.” Furthermore a curse is expressed over the Jews and “Jihad is called for, to kill the Jews, whereby suicide bombers - celebrated as martyrs - are the most effective weapon”. The Chancellor raises the question whether the statements “should be judged differently, and be considered allowed, because they are used by one side in a continuing profound conflict, where battle cries and invectives are part of everyday occurrences in the rhetoric that surround the conflict.” Lambertz thought that the “recently mentioned statements in spite of their contents are not to be considered “incitement against an ethnic group according to Swedish law”. His conclusions were that the preliminary investigation should be discontinued because this case of incitement against Jews could be said to originate from the Middle East conflict. That is, in spite of the calls for ”killing the Jews”, these statements are not a crime in the legal sense in Sweden, because of the current conflict in the Middle East, according to the Chancellor of Justice. The logical conclusion is clear. If one mentions Palestine in hate speeches and calls for massmurder against Jews, one risks nothing in Sweden.

One could say that the "battle cries and invectives" that are "everyday occurences" in the Middle East happen to come only from one side against the other. I have yet to see the Jewish rhetoric calling to wipe out all Muslims or Arabs from the Middle East.

However, I also find the general conclusion itneresting. What Lambertz is saying is that since Muslims call to kill Jews in the Middle East, it is fine for them to do it in Sweden as well. I wonder what would happen if Jews in Sweden would call for a holy war against Muslims (as part of the Middle East Conflict, of course). Would that be allowed? How about other things that Muslims do in the Middle East and that happen to be against Swedish law?

Source: European Jewish Press (English)


diasporavoice said...

First of all, I am Swedish and a Jew.
Here is my story:

Anonymous said...

I have yet to see the Jewish rhetoric calling to wipe out all Muslims or Arabs from the Middle East.

To be fair, there is some rhetoric from certain Jewish groups about "driving the Arabs out into the desert". It's not really common, though.

The logical conclusion is clear. If one mentions Palestine in hate speeches and calls for massmurder against Jews, one risks nothing in Sweden.

For all Europe has claimed to have learned from the Nazi era, it seems certain elements of Europe's ruling elite has only learned the following: "obey the strong and oppress the weak". The government of Sweden seemed to have learned that lesson already during the war.

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.