Earlier this month I reported that a Muslim group in Sweden had sued to have Lars Vilks charged with hets mot folkgrupp, “agitation against an ethnic group”.
Now the Justice Chancellor has ruled that the case against Mr. Vilks holds no merit, and it has been dropped. According to The Local:
‘Muhammad cartoon not racial agitation’
A cartoon depicting Prophet Muhammad as a dog, published in a local Swedish newspaper in August, did not constitute incitement to racial hatred, Sweden’s justice chancellor ruled on Thursday.
Three Swedish Muslim organizations had asked Justice Chancellor Göran Lambertz — the only official in Sweden entitled to indict in cases concerning freedom of the press — to press charges of incitement to racial hatred against the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda and its editor-in-chief Ulf Johansson.
The paper published the cartoon to illustrate a leader on the importance of freedom of speech.
Lambertz noted that for the charge to stick, it needed to be proven that “contempt” was expressed.
“Neither the leader nor the sketch, which has a satirical tone, expresses contempt against any ethnic group,” he said in a statement.
“While many practicing Muslims may perceive primarily the cartoon as offensive, neither the content of the article nor the cartoon can be considered as crossing the line of what is permissible within the freedom of the press,” he said.
“The justice chancellor will therefore not pursue the matter.”
Sweden, like most Western countries, does not recognize an absolute right to free expression — there are limits to what one may say or publish. But this ruling shows that the Swedish judicial system is scrupulous in its observance and enforcement of those limits.
If Mr. Vilks had said, “Mohammed was a pig,” then he would probably have been charged with hets mot folkgrupp. The same would have happened if he had referred to the heroin-smuggling habits of Kosovars in Sweden, as did the unfortunate Dahn Pettersson.
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But there are legal limits, and the justice chancellor has observed them. Muslims in Sweden do not have an absolute right not to be offended.
However, they have decided to be offended anyway. Hamas in particular has taken offense, as Paul Green pointed out in a comment:
A new addition to Lars Vilks’ art project: Check out this music video, aired by the Hamas channel Al-Aqsa TV yesterday and translated by MEMRI. The film features footage of corpses at terror attack scenes and of little kids in cammies strutting in formation with toy weapons in a schoolroom, while the jaunty jingle includes such lyrics as, “A bombing every minute … in black bags, chunks of flesh of Jews …”
But the real kicker comes in a blurb at the end:
Dedicated to the Arab and Palestinian community in Sweden
“Chunks of flesh of Jews”??
Is that hets mot folkgrupp?
Hat tip: Carpenter.
For previous posts on Lars Vilks and the Roundabout Dogs, see the Modoggie Archives.