Flying the ISIS flag is perfectly legal in Sweden and does not constitute a hate crime, a prosecutor has decided.
Prosecutor Gisela Sjövall said it was not a hate crime because ISIS detest everybody, and not just one identifiable group.
Last week she decided not to prosecute a 23-year-old Syrian migrant who put the infamous black ISIS flag on his Facebook page in June.
The black ISIS flag has become a symbol of terror in the Middle East, as feared as the swastika was during World War II
Police in Laholm, near Gothenburg, launched a criminal investigation into the man on suspicion of committing ‘hate speech’.
The Local reported that Ms Sjövall said: ‘Put simply, one can say that he is expressing contempt for “all others” and not against a specific ethnic group.’
She said while the swastika was a symbol of anti-Semitism, the same could not be said of the ISIS flag as the organisation, sometimes known as Daesh, hated Christians, Shia Muslims, Yazidis, gays and numerous other groups as well as Jews.
Flying the ISIS flag on your Facebook page (pictured) is not a hate crime in Sweden, it has been ruled
She told the Hallandsposten newspaper: ‘Up until now, we haven’t come to that point. That could change in ten years.’
For an image or statement to represent ‘incitement to hatred’ under Swedish law it needs to threaten or disparage a group of persons in connection to race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation.
Sjövall said: ‘If there had been anything in the text with more specific formulations about certain groups, for example homosexuals, the ruling could have been different.’
When police arrested the man and questioned him he told them he did not support ISIS and said the flag was used more widely among Muslims.
The black flag mostly commonly used by ISIS fighters features a line of white text above a white circle which carries black writing.
When the man was questioned in June, he told police he did not in fact support Islamic State.
‘He claims that this is not an IS flag, but instead a symbol which has is used within Islam, and which has been used for many hundreds of years before it was misappropriated by IS,’ his lawyer Björn Nilsson told Hallandsposten newspaper.
The black ‘Banner of the Eagle’ was banned from a public demonstration in the Netherlands in August 2014, and is forbidden in Germany.
In October 2014 British police arrested a man, Ali Iqbal, who was flying a black Islamic flag in a shop in Walthamstow, east London.
But they dropped charges after accepting his argument that it was a traditional Islamic flag, which had been hijacked by ISIS.
The Metropolitan Police said at the time: ‘It was found to be a flag that represents one of the five Pillars of Islam. This is not an illegal symbol. The proprietor has removed the flag from public view.’