(Fria Tider (Free Times), translated by Frau Katze) –Sweden Democrat Party politician Michael Hess of Karlskrona was sentenced today (May 8, 2014) to a fine for hate speech after having connected the religion of Islam with rape.
According to the judgment, the statement is not part of a “factual and authoritative discussion” and it thus it does not matter whether or not the statement is true.
The indictment concerned a comment on Facebook that Hess wrote next to an article in Aftonbladet, which was about women who were raped in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
“When are you journalists going to realize that it is deeply ingrained in Islamic culture to rape and mistreat those women who do not abide by the teachings of Islam? [Data] is widely available showing the connection between the rapes in Sweden and number of migrants from Middle Eastern and North African countries,” wrote the SD politician.
Hess, who has lived in the Middle East for eleven years, argued that the comment did in fact initiate a debate and persuade journalists to examine the phenomenon more deeply.
As proof of his innocence, Michael Hess including a summary of studies showing that men with ancestry from Muslim countries are very much overrepresented in Swedish rape statistics. This includes official figures from the National Council, which show that men from North Africa and Iraq are involved in rapes 23 and 20 times more often than Swedes.
Fined 32,000 krona
Alderman Lise-Lotte Backstrom and the three Social Democratic jurors at Blekinge District Court, however, took no account of the politician’s objections, and fined him 32,000 krona ($4,900 US) for “hate speech”.
“It is [...] apparent to the court that Michael Hess has meant for readers of his commentary to read the entire statement in the same context and thus readers will get the impression that it is Islamic beliefs that lie behind the rapes when the perpetrators are of Middle Eastern or North African origin. The statement expresses a blatant disrespect towards Islamic immigrants,” reads the judgment.
Hess’s statement is not to be regarded as “part of an objective criticism” and the research that Hess had referred to during the trial is irrelevant.
It does not matter if the statement is true
The court notes that “the question of whether Michael Hess’s statement is true, or at least for Michael Hess appeared to be true, is irrelevant to the proceedings.” The reason is that the SD politician submitted research support after [making the statement on Facebook].
In order for the statement to be classified as “objective criticism” Hess would have had to refer to any relevant research directly in the Facebook post.
“At the time [of the initial statement] , Michael Hess made no reference either to established research or Islamic sources. It is only in connection with his prosecution that he has sought to demonstrate support from research and religious writings. The District Court therefore finds that it is clear that Michael Hess’s statement has not been a part in an objective and authoritative discussion.”