Europe

Illustrative photo of men holding up an Islamic State flag.
The prosecutor found that the display of the flag itself does not constitute hate speech under law

A local prosecutor in Sweden has ruled that displaying black-and-white flag of the Islamic State terrorist organization on public forums does not in and of itself constitute hate speech, Swedish media reported Sunday.

Police had opened a hate speech investigation into a 23-year-old man who had posted the flag on his Facebook page in June, but Swedish prosecutor Gisela Sjövall announced that she would not seek to prosecute him on those charges because the flag does not constitute hate speech, Sweden's thelocal.se news portal reported.

Sjövall told local media that the flag does not express hatred for a specific ethnic group, as the swastika does for Jews, for example. Rather, she said, it represents contempt for "all others" and therefore does not, at this point, constitute hate speech under the law. 

"If there had been anything in the text [posted alongside the flag] with more specific formulations about certain groups, for example homosexuals, the ruling could have been different," Sjövall was quoted by thelocal.se as saying. 

In the Netherlands and Germany, the Islamic State flag has been banned from public display.

(Staff with agencies)

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