‘Not wrong’ to move aide after Islam slur: ruling

Sweden's top legal official has given backing to the decision to reassign the integration ministry civil servant who compared Islam to totalitarian ideologies.

”There are no indications that the employee has suffered a drop in pay or any disadvantageous consequences from the move,” read the statement from the Swedish Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern – JK).

The man, a non-political appointee, shared his opinion on Islam on his blog in September 2008 when he commented on an article by writer Lena Andersson in which she warned against the “religious terrorism” directed at artists, writers and journalists.

The civil servant’s own commentary on the article was that “Islam is like Communism or Nazism. There are no good practitioners – just confused or evil.”

The case received a lot of media attention and the ministry felt obliged to clarify that the opinions expressed on the blog was the man’s own and were not in any way reflecting those of the minsitry.

The Minister for Integration, Nyamko Sabuni, told the Expressen daily at the time, “I strongly disagree with these views and there is of course no truth in them”.

A written statement from Christer Hallerby, Sabuni’s state secretary, later confirmed that he and the staff member had agreed that as the discussion had arisen it was made clear that the man could no longer represent the department “in the same way as before.”

However, after a report from a private individual, JK was tasked to investigate whether the employee had been the victim of any unlawful reprisals for expressing his private opinion on his personal blog.

Swedish legal watchdog, the Ombudsman for Justice (Justitieombudsmannen – JO), had previously concluded that a civil servant, in making his personal opinion public and catching the media’s attention, may to the public seem less suited to carry out certain related types of tasks.

Even if the authority itself doesn’t doubt the employee’s ability to disregard personal opinion, it may be justified to take measures in such cases, similar to what would they would do in a situation of perceived bias.

Considering JO’s opinion and the fact that the inter-departmental reshuffle had occurred in agreement with the employee, JK found that there was no reason to criticise the department for the measures taken in the matter.

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