Last spring I reported on the case of Carl Herslow, a local politician in South Sweden who was charged with hets mot folkgrupp (incitement against an ethnic group) for publicly displaying posters showing Mohammed with a little girl, and for accurately identifying the respective ages of the prophet and his wife Aisha when their marriage was consummated.
The original (anatomically explicit) drawing that got Mr. Herslow in so much trouble may be seen at Ted Ekeroth’s blog.
Given the current political and social climate in Sweden, I assumed that Mr. Herslow would be convicted. The truth is no defense, especially the truth about Mohammed and Aisha, as was recently demonstrated by the conviction of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff for a verbal version of the same offense. The truth is irrelevant. You can cite the correct sura and ayat of the Koran and quote an authoritative hadith from Bukhari, and you’re still breaking the law, if the scriptures involved reveal something that shames Muslims in the eyes of the infidels.
Despite all this, this past week Carl Herslow was acquitted of hets mot folkgrupp by a Swedish jury. The verdict is not as comprehensive as one would like, since it does not affirm the truth as a defense. But even a narrowly-defined acquittal in Sweden is worth celebrating.
Here’s the story from The Local:
A Swedish politician facing charges for producing a poster depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad naked together with his nine-year-old wife was found not guilty by a jury in Malmö on Wednesday.
Carl P Herslow, leader of the Skåne Party (Skånepartiet), a small right-wing populist regional party, is charged with agitation against an ethnic group (hets mot folkgrupp).
The poster included the text: ‘He is 53 and she is nine. Is this the kind of wedding we want to see in Skåne?’.
Herslow admits producing the poster but contested the charges. He said the aim of the poster was to stimulate a debate about Islam, which he argued was incompatible with democracy and equality.
“The intention was to provoke a strong reaction among both Muslims and non-Muslims,” he said.
Prosecutor Bo Birgerson, representing the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern — JK) — the country’s top legal official, who is responsible for prosecution of cases involving freedom of speech — said that the distribution of the poster showed disrespect to Muslims.
Birgerson argued that previous cases in the Supreme Court showed that conviction for Herslow would not violate his right under Swedish law to freedom of speech.
“A conviction is important to show where the boundaries are for debate in an open and democratic society.”
The prosecution argued that Herslow should to be given a suspended prison sentence and for the posters to be confiscated.
But after deliberating less than an hour the jury, which are only used in Sweden in freedom of speech cases, told the court that Herslow was not guilty of agitation against an ethnic group.
As a result, the court cannot convict the politician when it delivers its formal verdict on March 16th.
Hat tip: Fjordman.