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Man sentenced for carrying offensive placard

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17:41 CET+01:00
A man who displayed a placard accusing immigrants of group rape at an anti-racism rally has been convicted of agitation against an ethnic group.

During a March 2007 rally organized in the south west coast town of Ängelholm by SSU, the youth wing of the Social Democratic Party, the man was seen holding a sign reading, “While Swedish girls are being group raped by immigrant gangs the SSU is fighting racism.”

The man was arrested and eventually indicted on charges of agitation against an ethnic group, according to the Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper.

During his trial, the man claimed he simply wanted to point out the absurdity of holding a demonstration against racism and hoped the sign would spark debate. He asserted he was simply expressing an opinion, which is a right afforded to him under the European Convention on Human Rights.

But District Prosecutor Lars Danielsson disagreed, arguing that the man “expressed disrespect for a group of people with reference to their national or ethnic background.”

The court agreed with Danielsson, fining the man 4000 kronor ($650).

In its decision, the court found the placard made gross generalizations that immigrants are inclined to rape Swedish girls, which falls under the legal definition of disrespect.

The court furthermore rejected the man's free speech argument by pointing out that he could have expressed his opinions in a manner other than wandering around the Ängelholm central square on a Saturday morning carrying an offensive sign, and that even the human rights convention has its limits.

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