A group of Swedish bearded hipsters posing for a photograph in the countryside were mistaken for ISIS militants and reported to police, they have said. The group, who were posing with a black flag featuring crossed swords, say they can understand how the mistake was made.
The group have taken to Instagram to proclaim that the incident has allowed them to challenge the stereotypes associated with bearded men, posing “Today thousands of people around the world got to see how Bearded Villains are here to change a huge stereotype.”
The men all belong to an international organisation known as the Bearded Villains, who describe themselves as “a brotherhood of elite bearded men from all over the world”. On Saturday, the Swedish chapter were outside the ruins of Brahehus castle in southern Sweden when two police officers approached them.
“After about an hour the police showed up,” group member Andreas Fransson, said. “They told us they got a call from someone driving past on the highway, saying that there were Isis terrorists at the ruins. The police saw of course that we weren’t terrorists, just very happy and nice bearded gentlemen”
“They told us that a motorist thought he had seen a gathering of Isis terrorists,” he said. Once the situation became clear the officers “had a good laugh,” he said, and got back in their patrol car “with a smile on their faces.”
He acknowledged that the brotherhood’s flag, which features two crossed sabres on a black background, could be confused with that of militant Islamic group ISIS, which features white crossed swords above Arabic writing on a black background. “The flag gets passed from club to club around the world and we take pictures with the flag to show our community,” he said.
The Bearded Villains were founded in Los Angeles in 2014 to showcase “bearded men with character”, according to their website. Their mission statement is “To unite bearded men of all cultures, races and creed in a Brotherhood devoted to loyalty, honour and respect toward all people, dedicated to the betterment of mankind through fraternity, charity and kindness.”
Fransson was keen to promote the social justice angle of the group, which he described as “fighting against injustice, homophobia, racism and oppression.” But he saw the irony in being connected with ISIS, which has been responsible for so much oppression and terrorism. “It was a funny incident but it’s a shame to be associated with ISIS given our charity work,” he said.
His comrades added: “Let this be a lesson to the world: don’t judge a book by its cover or a man by his beard.”
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