We reported several months ago on the launch of Tryckfrihetssällskapet, the Swedish Free Press Society. Ingrid Carlqvist, the chairman of the society, recently sent us this message:
Internationally, Sweden has earned the reputation of being a country that is so obsessed with political correctness that freedom of speech has essentially been abolished. The newly established Free Press Society, inspired by similar societies in Denmark and Canada, has caused both commotion and outrage amongst the dominant elite. Especially amongst journalists.
It sounds like a tall tale, but unfortunately it is true. This is the story of how the Free Press Society became the number one object of hate amongst Swedish journalists.
The Swedish Free Press Society was established in early 2012. The purpose is to defend and fight for freedom of speech by raising many of the issues that are not covered by the mainstream media; and to make it a little easier for people to express uncomfortable views and opinions in the country of consensus. The press release about the formation of the Society was hardly released before all hell broke loose. But in the brief time period between the press release and our first meeting on January 31st there was a compact silence. Not a single word was written about the Society or the meeting.
Explanations from some news editors regarding why they chose not to publish anything:
- Per Lärka, Editor in chief Sydnytt (local tv news channel): “The founder, Ingrid Carlqvist, has a political agenda.”
- Jonas Nyrén, News Editor Sydsvenskan (daily newspaper): “All the invited speakers are critical of Swedish immigration policy. They are Islam critical, xenophobic lecturers.”
- Odd Clausen, News Editor at Radio Malmöhus: “The Free Press Society is ideologically close to the Sweden Democrats. They meet to discuss issues they consider to be true, but that aren’t permitted to be talked about in this country.”
Despite the complete absence of media coverage, and with no advertising, more than 100 persons attended the meeting — which makes it a formidable success! Some reporters were present and in Sydsvenskan we could read not what was said at the meeting itself, but what one of the speakers, Lars Hedegaard, had said at another meeting.
Lars Hedegaard, the chairman of the Danish Free Press Society, is one of the increasing number of Europeans put on trial for making critical statements about Islam. The final ruling of Højesteret (the supreme court) will be announced on Friday April 20th.
Since that first meeting there have been a series of attacks on the Swedish Free Press Society:
- On February 2nd Petter Larsson at Sydsvenskan strongly urged us to disband the Society at our next meeting.
- On February 2nd Lotta Wendel at Helsingborgs Dagblad wrote that our plan is to make “the Danish muslim witch hunt into a Swedish one”.
- On February 3rd Johannes Nesser wrote in the Union paper Journalisten that journalists are unwillingly being added by SFPS to their Facebook group. Even though I explained to him that it is a result of Facebook group settings (you are added by the administrator and can easily leave the group if you do not like it). Nonetheless he wrote an article in which he calls us “Critics of Islam”.
- On March 8th the invitations to our second meeting went out. The topic was “Gender research at universities — science or insanity?” One of the lecturers was Roland Poirier Martinsson at the think-tank Timbro, a conservative critic of feminism and gender research. When his participation was revealed, a witch-hunt against him broke out on Twitter. It was led by the journalists Andreas Ekstrom (Sydsvenskan), Johannes Forssberg (Expressen), Anders Lindberg (Aftonbladet) and free lance-journalist Annika Hamrud. They put such pressure on Martinsson that he decided to cancel his lecture, which led to another withdrawal, and SFPS had to cancel the meeting. The journalists cheered. Markus Uwell, CEO of the think-tank Timbro twittered: “We don’t participate in arrangements by litigious and racist organizations.”
- On March 12th Kaj Schueler of Svenska Dagbladet wrote that SFPS is not about defending freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but about using certain episodes to say general truths and extreme opinions and to feed prejudices.
- On March 13th Annika Hamrud in Dagens Juridik claimed that SPFS has gone past the stage of litigiousness.
- On March 27th Andreas Ekstrom at Sydsvenskan made a frontal attack against SFPS and the undersigned. In a huge article in the Union newspaper Journalisten he claimed that I have let my judgement do horrible things to my reputation as a journalist, that I see ghosts everywhere and that I am making a fool of myself.
On Wednesday April 18th [today], The Free Press Society is arranging another meeting. The topic this time is “The threats against our Human Rights” and the lecturers are Hege Storhaug from Human Rights Service in Norway, Mrutyuanjai Mishra, European master in Human Rights and Democracy, journalist and film maker Shilan Saidi and Bahareh Andersson who works with victims of honour crimes.
The journalists are not interested in telling their readers, listeners and viewers about the event. The fear of the free word is apparently huge among Swedish journalists.
Chairman, Free Press Society, Sweden