The combo of facial hair and black flag does not always equal to something malevolent – even if it sounds a bit ominous, thanks to our stereotypical mindsets.
Case in point: a group of 30 bearded men recently found themselves in the crosshairs of the law after a concerned passerby in Sweden mistook the muscular males in dark garb for terrorists and called the police.
However, when the terror police arrived at the ruins of historic Brahehus Castle outside Granna, they witnessed a scene they least expected. The people they thought to be militants were actually members of Swedish chapter of Bearded Villains, an international “brotherhood of elite bearded men,” who were present at the ruined castle for a photo shoot featuring the organization's black-and-white flag.
“Yesterday, we had our Bearded Villains photo shoot,” member Andreas Fransson wrote on Facebook. “In the middle of the shoot, two cops showed up, telling us they got a call from someone saying they drove past and saw about 30 terrorists waving an ISIS flag.”
The organization’s monochrome flag features crossed swords along with their emblem, and apart from its color scheme, does not look anything like the flag hoisted by the Islamic State militants.
“I thought that they were joking at first,” explained John Ekeblad, co-leader of the Swedish group . “We had parked one of our cars on a pedestrian trail, and thought that that was the problem.”
Fortunately, the situation resolved quickly. The police acknowledged their mistake and the group had a good laugh, although they said the experience was surreal and highlighted the prejudices bearded men can face.
“It’s one of the foundations of our brotherhood, that you should not judge others before you know the facts,” said Ekeblad. “It’s the same with beards – each and every day you hear someone say you are a terrorist.”
The Bearded Villains movement was founded in the United States in 2014 “with the purpose of showcasing bearded men with character.” It is now active in more than 80 countries and according to its website, is “devoted to loyalty, honor and respect toward all people, dedicated to the betterment of mankind through fraternity, charity and kindness.”
Truth be told, their mission statement could not be further away from what ISIS represents, but the fact that their hairy appearance got them in trouble is disturbing.