Helsingborg's district court has given Imam Samir el Rifai SEK 3,000 ($305) in fines for hate speech during a July 2017 demonstration on Gustav Adolf Square in Helsingborg.
The speech was organised by the Swedish-Palestinian Centre in Helsingborg and held in Arabic. It was subsequently reported to the police by, among others, the Jewish Assembly in Helsingborg.
“It is especially worrying when a religious leader expresses himself like this”, Josefin Thorell, the chair of the Jewish congregation in northwestern Skåne, told the daily newspaper Expressen.
In his speech, el Rifai expressed extreme disdain for Jews by calling them “the progeny of monkeys and pigs”, which he acknowledged. However, he specified that the statement was made with the State of Israel in mind, something the court didn't accept as a valid argument.
“We believe it is clear from the speech in its entirety that the statement was aimed at Jews in relation to their religion, not the regime or military power”, lawyer Ylva Norling Jönsson told Expressen.
During the demonstration, he highlighted the Jews' “wickedness” by, among other things, suggesting they had “intrigued” against Jesus, Muhammad and other prophets.
“There is no prophet against whom those who are the progeny of monkeys and pigs have not made evil plans against. They did it to all prophets and to all nations, this has also affected our prophet, peace be upon him”, el Rifai was quoted as saying.
The demonstration, was held in protest against Israel's move to cordon off the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, following a shooting incident, in which two Israeli police officers were killed.
According to the news outlet Nyheter Idag, the demonstration in Helsingborg called for various acts of violence and paid tribute to “martyrdom”, with chants like “Shoot your shots, let bullets punch holes” and “Remember the heroes, Kalashnikov”. At the same time, several speakers condemned contemporary Arab leaders for their perceived timidity and indecision, likening them to “women and gays”.
Earlier this year, Sweden launched a “historic offensive” against Islamic radicalism, placing a total of five imams and preachers in custody and slating them for deportation. Some of them reportedly advocated “anti-democratic” and “militant” brands of Islam and supported terrorist organisations.
While 39-year-old el Rifai has been identified by several Swedish media as a Lebanese citizen, he will not be deported.