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Swedish club for bearded men mistaken for IS

The group, known as the Bearded Villains, does charity work and fights homophobia around the world
The Bearded Villains uploaded the photograph to its instagram account (Instagram/@beardedvillains)

A club of bearded men posing for a photograph in the Swedish countryside with their black flag was mistaken for Islamic State (IS) members, prompting a visit by the police, a club member said on Monday.

Andreas Fransson, 32, was with his bearded buddies on Saturday outside the ruins of Brahehus castle in southern Sweden when two police officers turned up.

"They told us that a motorist thought he had seen a gathering of IS terrorists," said Fransson, whose Bearded Villains organisation does charity work.

On grasping the situation, the two officers "had a good laugh" and got back in their patrol car "with smiles on their faces," said Fransson who works in public relations.

He acknowledged that the club's flag – two crossed sabres on a black background – could easily be confused with that of IS. 

"We belong to a club that is part of an association created in the United States, called the Bearded Villains and which fights against injustice, homophobia, racism and oppression," he said.

"The flag gets passed from club to lub around the world and we take pictures with the flag to show our community," he said.

"It was a funny incident but it's a shame to be associated with IS given our charity work."

On the club's Instagram page, the Bearded Villains joked they had been the victims of "facial profiling".

"Today thousands of people around the world got to see how Bearded Villains are here to change a huge stereotype.

 Let this be a lesson to the world, don’t judge a book by its cover, or a man by his beard.” 

Last week, an engineering school in southern France called ISIS ran into trouble with Canadian customs agents worried over a possible link to the armed group, which uses the same acronym.

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