Swedish anti-Semitism?

or free speech for some?

A Danish CartoonA Danish Cartoon

The EU Commission has been arguing for many years, at least 13, over the form of hate laws regarding race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin that it would like imposed on its members.

The same rules would also apply to people publicly condoning, denying, or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Rwanda would be included but not the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 so as not to upset Turkey. Crimes under Stalin and Communism are not included, despite protests from Eastern members, presumably as this would upset Russia. The UK has a Religious and Racial Hatred Act, which will no doubt eventually be harmonised under an EU directive.

EU Observer tells us that Sweden, the present EU president, has caused a diplomatic crisis with Israel regarding a newspaper article which claims Israeli soldiers have been harvesting Palestinian organs.

The Israeli government has said the piece is a modern form of medieval "blood libel" - the anti-Semitic myth that Jews killed Christian children for their blood. Mr Netanyahu has demanded that Sweden formally condemn the story, which was published in Sweden's top selling daily paper. He said:

"We're not asking the Swedish government for an apology, we're asking for their condemnation,"

However, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt wrote in his blog that the country's principle of freedom of expression means that the government is in no place to condemn any story in a newspaper.

"Freedom of speech is a basic value in Sweden," his statement said.

This would appear to jar with Chapter 15, Section 8 of Sweden’s criminal code which prohibits the expression of “disrespect” towards minority groups. The law carries a penalty of up to four years of imprisonment. It requires no evidence of incitement to violence and lacks any objective standard for identifying “disrespect.”

Incidentally the Swedish government shut down the website of a political party's newspaper over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.