A group of beard aficionados were in for a surprise on Saturday, when they were mistaken for ISIS members by a passing motorist, who called the police on the beard enthusiasts.
About 30 men from the Swedish chapter of the beard club, “Bearded Villains,” met up on Saturday at the ruins of Braehus Castle for a photoshoot, showcasing the Swedish chapter hosting the club’s flag, which travels the world from chapter to chapter. The flag — which, admittedly, somewhat resembles the ISIS flag from afar — features white writing on a black background, with two crossed swords in the middle. In a case of what the group of beard lovers is calling “facial profiling,” a passing motorist saw the large band of bearded men, waving their flag, and called the police, explaining that a terrorist cell of ISIS members were gathering at the castle, waving a flag.
Andreas Fransson, a member of the Bearded Villains, spoke to the Independent about the incident, explaining that it was the Swedish chapter’s turn to look after the organization’s flag, and they had arranged a special photoshoot for the occasion.
“After about an hour the police showed up. 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.”
Fransson also took to Facebook on Sunday to discuss what happens when a world on high alert for ISIS and other terrorist organization attacks sees a large gathering of bearded men, and automatically jumps to conclusions.
“Yesterday, we had our Bearded Villains flag shoot at a castle ruin called Braehus.
“In the middle of the shoot, two cops show up, telling us they got a call from someone saying that they drove past and saw about 30 terrorists waving a ISIS flag.
“We had a good laugh with the cops, who had to respond to the call, but quickly saw that we weren’t terrorists, out in the middle of nowhere, dressed in formal wear, hugging and laughing.”
The Bearded Villains brotherhood, which originated in California in 2014, has grown exponentially in the last year, and now has chapters in over 80 countries, says Fransson, including chapters in “Germany, Canada, Greece, Netherlands, Australia, Mexico, 25 states in the US and all over The UK,” according to the group’s official website.
As reported by CNN, the organization — which is dedicated to “The Beard, Charity, Family, Respect, Loyalty” — couldn’t possibly be further from what ISIS stands for. The mission statement on the Bearded Villains website reads that they are “devoted to loyalty, honor, and respect toward all people, dedicated to the betterment of mankind through fraternity, charity, and kindness.”
Though they may have been mistaken for ISIS militants, the beard loving men of the Bearded Villains strive to help the world, rather than destroy it. One particular Instagram post shows four brothers of the Las Vegas chapter presenting a check for $1,355 to the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada.
While the bearded brothers of the Swedish chapter understood that the police who showed up that day were just doing their job, John Ekeblad, co-leader of the Swedish chapter, said that the incident serves to highlight the prejudices bearded men face on almost a daily basis.
“It’s one of the foundations of our brotherhood, that you should not judge others before you know the facts. It’s the same with beards – each and every day you hear someone say you are a terrorist.”
It’s a lesson the entire organization of the Bearded Villains hope that people will take away from this case of mistaken identity: Don’t judge a book by its cover, or a man by his beard. Men of all nationalities are sporting luxurious beards these days, not only ISIS militants.
[Image Credit: Instagram / BeardedVillains]