According to the Swedish mainstream media, the country has experienced a significant rise in prosecutions for "hate speech" on social media last year. The organization believed to be largely responsible for this rise is "Näthatsgranskaren" ("The Web Hate Investigator"), a private organization founded in January 2017 by a former police officer, Tomas Åberg, who has taken it upon himself to identify and report to the authorities Swedish individuals whom he and his organization decide are committing thought crimes and "inciting hatred" against foreigners.
Åberg's organization reported no fewer than 750 Swedish citizens in 2017 to the authorities for "web hate". According to Aftonbladet, 14% of the reported cases went on to prosecution of which about 7% -- 77 cases -- led to actual convictions. Most of the people identified and reported by the organization were middle aged and elderly ladies. "The average age is around 55 years", said Åberg, "Young women almost do not appear at all".
According to Aftonbladet, "In his work, Tomas Åberg sees how quickly people are radicalized on the internet and he thinks it's scary. It may begin with statements against foreigners that are within the framework of the law, only to end with serious criminal hatred". ("Hate" is actually not a crime, according to Swedish law; "incitement to hate" is). 
Åberg founded the organization with a friend, because, he said, he did not think that "serious internet crimes" were being taken seriously enough in Sweden. "We created our own search application, which finds words and phrases that might be suspected of constituting incitement against ethnic groups and unlawful threats".
At present, the organization consists of 15 people, including police officers, system developers, lecturers, lawyers and social workers, all of whom are anonymous. The organization refuses to identify the people working for it.
Åberg was recently nominated for a prestigious prize, the "Swedish Hero" award, by one of Sweden's largest newspapers, Aftonbladet. Since 2007, the newspaper has awarded the "Swedish Hero" prize every year "to everyday heroes who have shown bravery, civil courage and human compassion". Apparently, turning in fellow Swedes to the authorities for alleged "hate speech" is now viewed in Sweden as "heroic".
Shortly after Tomas Åberg's nomination to the "Swedish Hero" award, however, his name reportedly disappeared from the list of nominees with no explanation offered by Aftonbladet. Åberg, it turned out, who used to own an animal farm, had apparently starved his oxen to death in 2013. After he was reported to the police for the animal abuse, he reportedly changed his name, fled abroad to escape justice, and returned to Sweden only as the statute of limitations on his crime was expiring.
Notably in Sweden, while it is not seen as "compassionate" or "heroic" to starve animals to death, it is viewed as 'heroic' to report elderly citizens to the police for them to be prosecuted and have their lives potentially ruined for voicing their opinions on social media.
Not only does the mainstream media view reporting thought crimes to the media as "heroic"; the Swedish state actively supports it. Åberg's organization received 600,000 Swedish kroner ($73,000) from the Swedish government. This support was motivated by referencing "activities against racism and intolerance".
It is curious that the Swedish state can afford to give more than half a million Swedish kroner away to a private vigilante organization, run by a seemingly shady figure, at a time when the Swedish police are starved for resources and barely have time to investigate the very crimes, including horrific gang rapes, which are causing these 'hateful' social media posts to begin with.
One of the elderly women, whose life Åberg has disrupted and possibly ruined, is a 73-year old woman with no criminal record, who shared an old text from 2015, widely available on the internet and written by someone else, in a small Facebook group of barely 50 people. She has been charged with "incitement against an ethnic group" for sharing the following:
"A biological sensation in Sweden. A new bird species (parasitus muslimus) has established itself here... In recent years, the Arab bird (parasitus muslimus) has been widely spread in northern Europe, largely because it lacks natural enemies here...The female has a comprehensive feather shield, where only the eyes are visible... The male usually has four females... The species is a migratory bird but with the weird feature that they never move back..."
Another woman, 75, was charged with "inciting hatred against an ethnic group" after writing the following about marriage among Muslims on Facebook in May 2017:
"The right to our bodies? Wonder what they mean by that? They say they are not allowed to choose the husband themselves. It must be a cousin, uncle... or maybe a grandfather. Probably they are completely IQ-liberated because inbreeding among Muslims has been going on for thousands of years. "
Yet another woman, Christina, 65, was charged with "inciting hatred against an ethnic group" for writing on Facebook: "If this continues, the intelligence in Sweden will be at goldfish level" and "Refuse all that has to do with Islam". She denies having written those statements but insists that she wishes to warn Swedes against Islam. According to news reports, in 2016 Christina was assaulted by four so-called "unaccompanied minors" (migrants) and knocked unconscious, an act that has impaired her memory. No one was sentenced for that assault, but she now faces financial difficulties and cannot pay her rent. She receives no help from the Swedish state. So far, Christina has reportedly been interrogated six times, for up to two hours each, for her alleged thought crimes, asked about her childhood, and whether she was doing drugs. She has no criminal record.
"It's terrible to feel like a dangerous criminal because you write the truth about what's happening in our society, while rape is high and criminals go free," she told Samtiden. It was someone from Näthatsgranskaren who reported her to the police. She risks being fined or possibly going to jail.
Denny, a 71-year-old pensioner, is currently on trial for "incitement to hatred" for having asked, "One can criticize fascism or Nazism, but why not Islam? Why should Islam have any protection status?"
A 64-year old man was reported to the police by Näthatsgranskaren for encouraging Swedes to learn self-defense. He is now being charged with "incitement to hatred against an ethnic group" for writing on Facebook:
"Before it's too late, I suggest that anyone... who is able to manage to defend this country, joins the shooting clubs, self-defense clubs, karate clubs or anything... Everything is allowed for a Muslim as long as he harasses 'infidels'... a Muslim feels as bad about chopping off a human head as we do about opening a can of sardines".
During interrogations, he reportedly said that he has no intention of hurting anyone and that his post was merely about self-defense. The police questioned him about whether he has anything against Muslims: "I have nothing against Muslims...," he said. "That is not what this is about. It is about Islam and the Koran that does not have the same values as us... It says in the Koran that all infidels must be killed..." He asked the police to deal with imams who preach hatred in the mosques instead.
Even before Åberg's organization came into the picture, Sweden was prosecuting Swedes for "incitement to hate" as if the future of the Swedish state depended on it. Here are a few recent cases:
A 71-year-old woman referred to so-called unaccompanied minors as "bearded children" and said that they are "engaged in rape and demolishing their [asylum] homes". She posted the comment on the Facebook page of the Sweden Democrats in June 2016. In February 2018, a Swedish court sentenced her to a fine for "incitement of hatred against an ethnic group".
During her trial, she said that she had been reading several articles about these purported unaccompanied refugees who "burned down asylum housing and raped and then refused to have their age medically determined in order to escape sentencing".
"It made me terrified," she said, apologizing for her post, which she said was aimed solely at those who commit crimes. The court evidently did not care about the elderly woman's fear, and concluded:
"...the [woman] must have realized that there was an imminent risk that people who read the text would perceive it as an expression of disagreement with other ethnic groups of people in general and the vast majority of single unaccompanied refugees, who, at the time of the comment, had come to Sweden in particular. Despite this, she wrote the comment on Facebook." the co.
A woman in her fifties was sentenced to a fine in December 2017 for a post on Facebook, in which she called men from Afghanistan, who had lied about their age, "camel riders": "These damn camel riders will never be self-sufficient, because they are damn parasites," she wrote. Prosecutor Mattias Glaser emphasized that the post was directed against "young men struggling to stay in the country". According to the court:
"... condescending words were used in a manner that... expressed contempt for people of Afghan origin or people from neighboring areas with respect to skin color and national or ethnic origin in a manner which fits the provision about incitement to hatred".
In November 2017, a 65-year old man was sentenced to a fine for "incitement of hatred against an ethnic group". His crime? Writing on Facebook that, "newly arrived" migrants, not Swedes, were guilty of committing gang rapes. According to the court, the man "claimed that Afghans, Africans and Arabs who have newly arrived in Sweden commit crimes such as gang rapes". This claim, according to the court, constitutes, "clear contempt" for people of the mentioned national origins. The 65-year old man argued that he published the comment because Sweden withholds statistics about the ethnic origins of rapists and that his comment was a way to spread information and start a debate. This made no impression on the court, which concluded: "The post contains a serious accusation that people of certain national origins commit serious crimes and it [the post] cannot as such be considered to arouse or contribute to an objective discussion on the subject."
In February, a 55-year old man was sentenced to a fine for, "incitement against an ethnic group" for writing on Facebook that Sunni Muslims are behind most of the gang crime in Sweden, as well as rapes. "Somalis are Sunni Muslims... they are behind much of the gang crime in Sweden and all the other violence, such as rapes. Afghans are 80% Sunni and they are a damned people!" he wrote.
During the trial, he said he was under the impression that there was freedom of speech in Sweden. "You see this stuff everyday", he said; "gang rapes, shootings, animal abuse and the like and the politicians do not seem able to do anything about it. The police do not do anything either and people get angry". The court concluded:
"... the post expresses that Muslims in general are behind gang crime and rapes in Sweden and is formulated in an offensive manner... the post does not invite a critical discussion about religion, it expresses the exact kind of contempt that the provision about incitement against an ethnic group is aimed at. The defendant is sentenced to 10,000 kroner [$1,200] for incitement against an ethnic group".
The list goes on....
Sweden is being swept by a strong wave of murder, violent assault, rape, gang rape and sexual assault, in addition to the ever-present terror threat. Instead of using its limited resources to protect its citizens from the violent onslaught against them, Sweden is waging a legal war on its pensioners for daring to speak out against the same violent onslaught from which the state is failing to protect them.
 Brottsbalken chapter 16, § 8,1 st, explicitly talks of "incitement" (Swedish: "hets mot folkgrupp") against groups of people defined by their "race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual preference". However, the provision does not criminalize criticism of religion, ideology or ideas.
John Richardson is a researcher based in the United States.