Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Silence

In the uneasy quiet which has followed the publication of the Aftonbladet article, and the Swedish government's refusal to condemn it, Sweden's Chancellor of Justice, Göran Lambertz, has played a leading role by justifying the refusal on the basis of Sweden's Constitution.

At Harry's Place, Paul Leslie examines an earlier intervention by Lambertz in a case which caused a similar degree of alarm. In 2006, the European Jewish Press published an opinion from four leading members of Sweden's Jewish community about Lambertz's decision in the same year to discontinue the preliminary investigation of the great mosque in Stockholm. Excerpt:
Cassette tapes had been sold in the bookshop of the mosque with a violently Anti-Semitic content. After a couple of broadcasts on the 26 and 27th November last year, the Stockholm mosque was reported to the police.

In his decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation Lambertz wrote that “the lecture at hand contains statements that are strongly degrading to Jews, among other things, they are throughout called brothers of apes and pigs.” Furthermore a curse is expressed over the Jews and “Jihad is called for, to kill the Jews, whereby suicide bombers - celebrated as martyrs - are the most effective weapon”.

The Chancellor raises the question whether the statements “should be judged differently, and be considered allowed, because they are used by one side in a continuing profound conflict, where battle cries and invectives are part of everyday occurrences in the rhetoric that surround the conflict.” Lambertz thought that the “recently mentioned statements in spite of their contents are not to be considered “incitement against an ethnic group according to Swedish law”. His conclusions were that the preliminary investigation should be discontinued because this case of incitement against Jews could be said to originate from the Middle East conflict. That is, in spite of the calls for ”killing the Jews”, these statements are not a crime in the legal sense in Sweden, because of the current conflict in the Middle East, according to the Chancellor of Justice. The logical conclusion is clear. If one mentions Palestine in hate speeches and calls for mass murder against Jews, one risks nothing in Sweden.
The authors of the opinion concluded:

The most frightening thing about this decision is the resounding silence that it has generated.
 See also: Aftonbladet not to face legal probe

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