UPDATE: 2015-03-12: The man who posted on Facebook not convicted for hate speech.
UPDATE: 2015-04-15: Prosecutor decided to appeal to a higher instance.
In July 2014 a man came home after a long day at work and didn’t fall asleep until 03.00. His sleep was unfortunately cut short due to the Muslim call to prayer which commenced blasting from outside of his apartment at 07.30. Being understandably cranky after a mere 4.5 hours of sleep he decided to get on Facebook and post a video of the prayer along with the following comment:
“It isn’t normal to be woken up by a donkey with a stomach ache.”
He deleted the post within 30 minutes but by that time it had spread like wildfire and before he knew it an angry mob of 100-200 Muslims had gathered outside of his apartment to physically assault him. One witness told police that certain individuals had knives.
“Some of the people on the spot say that if the police do not do something about X they will do it themselves. Someone says that it isn’t hard to crush a window and get to X who lives on the bottom floor.” – extract from Police Report.
As luck would have it the man survived the ordeal but it wasn’t going to end there. He is, in fact, going to court tommorow where he will stand trial for his deeply offensive Facebook post.
The Pakistani Penal Code prohibits blasphemy and from 1987 to 2014 over 1300 have been accused of blasphemy and politicians opposing the law have been assassinated. The post falls under paragraph 298 and leads to 1 years imprisonment, fine, or both.
“Uttering of any word or making any sound or making any gesture or placing of any object in the sight with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person” – §298 PCC
What makes this case special is that the events and the court proceedings are not taking place in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad but in the small city of Nyköping, Sweden.
In 1970 the Swedish blasphemy law was supposed to have gone up in smoke but it seems to have morphed into the malleable and all-encompassing law against so-called “hate speech”. Prosecutor Michael Forsberg does not consider the crime to be minor:
“Taken out of context the comment appears to be inoffensive. But together with the video and the fact that it got an enormous proliferation it isn’t criticism against religion but a pure mockery.” – M.F.
Mårten Schultz, Civil Rights professor at Stockholms University, strongly disagrees with him and states that even though it is unlikely that the case will lead to conviction it undermines the hate speech legislation. I am inclined to agree with Mårten on this one but would like to add the following.
The government does not send off the right signals when a mob of offended knife-wielding Muslims are seen as victims whilst a sleep-deprived man who posted a Facebook status critical of a call to prayer is seen as an enemy of the state.
Here is a video of the prayers in question which you ought to avoid criticizing harshly in Sweden, unless you fancy going to court or being assaulted.
A wise woman once said:
I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air. A rather nauseating stench.
Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)