21 or IS? Swedish Police mistaken 21st Birthday Party Balloons for ISIS Initials

KARLSKRONA, (Sweden) – Police swooped on a Swedish student’s flat this week after mistaking balloons celebrating her 21st birthday party as propaganda for the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), otherwise known simply as the Islamic State. (Read backwards, the rounded numerals resembled the initials “IS.”)

Sarah Ericsson said she and her boyfriend, Fabian Akesson, had thrown a party during the weekend for her 21st birthday and there were balloons shaped like the number “21” in her window, which she said read backwards from outside the window.

Akesson said he was at Ericsson’s Karlskrona home Monday morning, two days after the party, when several police cars pulled up to the house and officers said a witness had reported Islamic State propaganda being displayed in the window.

“We understand why someone would report it if they thought it looked like IS-propaganda, although everyone else just thought it looked like the number ’12’ from outside,” Ericsson told The Local.

Akesson said he laughed when police told him the issue.

“I laughed about it and they showed me a photo that they had taken where from their perspective, it did almost look like the letters IS,” he told the told Kvallsposten, an Expressen newspaper.

Akesson said he agreed to move the balloons.

“They asked me to take down the balloons to avoid further misunderstanding. We laughed some more about it all and they wished me a nice day, and wished my girlfriend a belated ‘Happy Birthday,'” he said.

Ericsson said didn’t mind removing the balloons because “extremism should always be taken seriously.”

“I’m so surprised at all the attention. I will never forget my 21st birthday!” she said.

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