• Sweden edition
 
Islam 'Sweden's biggest threat': far-right leader

Islam 'Sweden's biggest threat': far-right leader

Published: 19 Oct 2009 10:21 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Oct 2009 10:21 GMT+02:00

An article by the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats claiming that Islam is the biggest threat to Sweden since World War II is tantamount to hate speech, according to legal experts.

A number of jurists believe the text, published in the opinion section of the Aftonbladet newspaper, qualifies as agitation against an ethnic group (hets mot folkgrupp).

The Sweden Democrats concluded their annual congress on Sunday in the town of Ljungbyhed in Skåne in southern Sweden.

On Monday, Aftonbladet published an opinion piece by party leader Jimmie Åkesson in which the prominent far-right politician slams Islam.

According to Åkesson, “today’s multicultural Swedish power-elite are totally blind to the dangers of Islam.”

He goes on to claim that more than ten Muslim terrorist organizations have established themselves in Sweden, that Sweden has the most rapes in Europe, and that Muslim men are highly overrepresented among the perpetrators.

“As a Sweden Democrat, I see this as our greatest external threat since World War II and I promise to use all my power to change the trend during next year's election,” writes Åkesson.

Åkesson’s claims prompted academics and legal experts to draw parallels between the Sweden Democrats and the Nazis.

“This is the same sort of propaganda as the Nazis' anti-Semitism,” said Jan Hjärpe, an emeritus professor of Islamic Studies at Lund University, to Aftonbladet.

“This also has racist undertones, because the rhetoric assumes that religious affiliation determines how a person acts.”

Several leading lawyers who spoke with Aftonbladet believe the article borders on qualifying as agitation against an ethnic group.

“I think that the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern - JK) should prosecute it. The article is uniformly directed against and is hateful toward Muslims as a group,” said attorney and media expert Peter Danowsky.

“To single out an entire religion as the greatest external threat is very close to agitation against an ethnic group,” attorney Peter Althin told Aftonbladet.

“A tough jury assessing the boundaries of free speech would condemn this article. It’s an expression of disrespect towards Muslims as a group,” said Per Hultengård, a lawyer with the Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association (Tidningsutgivarna).

But Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz said he has no plans to launch a preliminary investigation himself as to whether Åkesson’s article violates Swedish rules governing the freedom of expression.

“This isn’t an obvious case of agitation against an ethnic group. If it had been, I would have launched an investigation myself. But I’ll probably receive complaints about the article and then I’ll look more closely into the matter,” Lambertz told TT.

One controversial claim in Åkesson's article is that Sweden has more rapes than any other country in Europe.

According to Sweden’s National Crime Prevention Council (Brottsförebyggande rådet – BRÅ), researchers agree that it’s impossible to assess and compare the actual number of violent crimes and rapes across different countries by comparing the number of crimes reported to police.

“The differences between countries’ judicial systems and their systems for gathering statistics regarding crimes reported to police isn’t just big – it’s really big,” council head Jan Andersson wrote last spring in comments on an EU study on the matter.

“Firstly, we in Sweden have an obvious legal definition of what is considered rape. That means that more cases in Sweden are tried and registered as rape than in many other countries. Secondly, we in Sweden began putting a lot of effort into registering all cases which could be suspected of being rape at a very early stage in the process, which means that we even count cases which later turn out to be some other sexually-related crime, no crime at all, et cetera.”

In Sweden, every individual act reported to police is registered, not just the most recent or primary criminal act. In many other countries, authorities want and remove many cases from statistics.

There is also no basis for Åkesson’s claim that Muslim men are overrepresented among rapists.

“I haven’t seen any scientific articles dealing with this which have reached that conclusion. It’s based on an assumption,” Brå researcher Klara Hradilova Selin told TT.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Åkesson’s article makes clear what the Sweden Democrats want to achieve.

“They have an interest and that’s to differentiate between people, to create an us-against-them way of thinking, cast suspicion on ‘them’ and in that way lay the groundwork for policies by which ‘they’ are thrown out or deported,” Reinfeldt said at an informal press conference on the margins of a Monday morning visit to Gothenburg University.

“Every attempt by those in power to single out the right religion or right nationality, right sexual preference, has always ended horribly. Because as soon as practical policies are to be made using that approach, a dividing up of people begins which is neither manageable nor desirable.”

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV
Grossed out Ica woman at Easter dinner. Screengrab from Ica

Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV

A Swedish supermarket has decided to withdraw its Easter commercial, after Christians complained it made a mockery of communion - "They crossed the line." Sweden's advertising watchdog will now look into the case. READ () »

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut
The search and rescue operation in northern Sweden. File photo: TT

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut

The 22-year-old man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in northern Sweden had his sentence reduced on Wednesday, in part due to his "peculiar personality". READ () »

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

An elementary school in southern Sweden was evacuated on Wednesday and dozens of pupils were taken to hospital after the smell of gas spread through the rooms. READ () »

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock
The Flymen Church weathercock in all its newly gilded glory. Photo: TT

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock

A Swedish churchwarden has reacted with joy upon finding out the parish has Sweden's nicest weathercock. READ () »

Greens push rich tax to finance schools
Per Bolund of The Greens. File photo: TT

Greens push rich tax to finance schools

Sweden's third largest party The Greens revealed its shadow budget on Wednesday, targeting schools and youth employment. High earners would have to pitch in more. READ () »

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'
Ibiza, you say? File photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'

Mythbusting Swedish researchers have found no link between gushing about your upcoming holiday online and returning to an emptied house. They told The Local that a trip to Ikea could be much more dangerous. READ () »

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft
The people in this picture are not those from the story. Photo: TT

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft

A woman in Gothenburg who accused a beggar of robbing her has been charged with fraud and false accusations. READ () »

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
Photo: Kungahuset

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess

Sweden's royal family has set the date for the baptism of Princess Leonore. READ () »

The Local List
Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

With Swedish Game of Thrones fans frothing at the mouth at the season four premiere, The Local revisits its list of ten reasons why the hit books and show are (probably) based in Sweden. READ () »

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers
The Kockums Malmö shipyard and FMV headquarters. Files: TT

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers

After the Swedish military raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp, a military expert tells The Local why recent Russian aggression means Sweden's Saab needs to take control of national submarine production. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Advertisement:
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Society
'Blondes have more brains': Swedish study
TT
Society
VIDEO: Leaked 'Save Slussen' film goes viral
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching, March 28-30
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

745
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com