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Jury decides posters were not racial agitation

Updated onsdag 2 mars 2011 kl 19.00
Published onsdag 2 mars 2011 kl 13.10

After just an hour of deliberation, the jury had already decided that small-time local politician Carl P Herslow was not guilty of inciting ethnic agitation.

It all started during an election meeting in May 2010, small-time local politician Carl P Herslow showed posters depicting the Prophet Muhammad and his 9-year-old wife, both naked. The posters were simple drawings and the message read:

“He is 53 and she is nine. Do we want to see these kinds of weddings in Skåne?”

The posters shocked many in the southern city of Malmö and Herslow, the leader of Skånepartiet, a local separatist and anti-immigrant party, was reported.

The case had been controversial.

The Chancellor of Justice, who reported Herslow, says the posters convey a clear message of contempt against a group of people based solely on their religious affiliations. And that, since a technical examination of the posters shows that they have been printed in a large format printer, means that it could be a considered a violation of the press law.

Herslow's supporters compare the case with Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist who published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. Instead of being prosecuted, they say, Vilks is enjoying police protection and spends at least part of his time preaching about the importance of press freedom.

To his supporters Herslow was simply being prosecuted because he is considered an extremist. His party wants the southern province of Skåne to become its own republic, and that all the Muslims in Skåne would then be moved to Sweden.

In a recent interview with Radio Sweden, chancellor of justice Anna Skarhed admitted that there is no "fundamental difference" between the Herslow and the Vilks case. She says it's the courts that have to decide on a case by case basis about what is considered freedom of speech and what is considered racial agitation.

And according to the jury, Herslow did not overstep that line. The judge's final ruling is not due for 2 more weeks.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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