Dahn Pettersson, a councillor for the local Alliance Party, presented the motion to Burlöv council last year. The main subject of the motion was homelessness in the town.
He said that drugs were a major reason for homelessness, adding: “Is it surprising that rough sleepers are growing in number when we import this drug, due to the fact that [former immigration minister Birgit ] Friggebo gave 46,000 Kosovo Albanians permanent residency? After this mistake, heroin has flooded Sweden and Europe.”
Prosecutor Mats Svensson told the court Pettersson had used tactics that pitted different societal groups against each other and deliberately spread wounding statements about Kosovo Albanians.
“It is never ethnic groups that commit crimes. It is individuals or groups of individuals,” Svensson told the court.
Pettersson’s counsel Bjelica Milenko said that freedom of speech was on trial. A motion about homelessness must be allowed to point to the problems and costs of immigration, he said.
The court found against Pettersson, ruling that he was guilty of Agitation Against a National or Ethnic Group. In its ruling, the court said that the law was a limitation on freedom of speech, and every case must be judged in context. Reasoned criticism is not illegal, but Pettersson’s motion went beyond what could be considered reasoned.
The ruling has been greeted with dismay by campaigners for freedom of speech. Former Dagens Nyheter editor Svante Nycander told The Local that the ruling was harmful to freedom of expression.
“Many will take it as proof that the authorities are afraid of uncomfortable truths,” he said.