European Court says religious feelings and religious peace overrule free speech

The European Court of Human Rights has made a ruling saying, that the right of people to have their religious feelings protected  and the “legitimate aim of preserving religious peace” in Austria.

That this is in a case in which a women was convicted for calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile is likely to inflame a contentious and volatile situation in Europe.

Deutsche Welle – Calling Prophet Muhammad a pedophile does not fall within freedom of speech: European court

The ECHR ruled against an Austrian woman who claimed calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile was protected by free speech. The applicant claimed she was contributing to public debate.

An Austrian woman’s conviction for calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile did not violate her freedom of speech, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled that Austrian courts carefully balanced the applicant’s “right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.”

The woman in 2009 held two seminars entitled “Basic Information on Islam,” during which she likened Muhammad’s marriage to a six-year-old girl, Aisha, to pedophilia.

The court cited the Austrian women stating during the seminar that Muhammad “liked to do it with children” and “… A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”

An Austrian court later convicted the woman of disparaging religion and fined her €480 ($546). Other domestic courts upheld the decision before the case was brought before the ECHR.

So the European Court of Human Rights has not made or imposed this law, they have supported lower courts.

The women had argued that her comments fell within her right of freedom of expression and religious groups must tolerate criticism. She also argued they were intended to contribute to public debate and not designed to defame the Prophet of Islam.

The ECHR recognized that freedom of religion did not exempt people from expecting criticism or denial of their religion.

However, it found that the woman’s comments were not objective, failed to provide historical background and had no intention of promoting public debate.

The applicant’s comments “could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not worthy of worship,” the court said, adding that the statements were not based on facts and were intended to denigrate Islam.

It also found that even in a debate it was not compatible with freedom of expression “to pack incriminating statements into the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion and claim that this rendered passable those statements exceeding the permissible limits of freedom of expression.”

As well as growing anti-Islam sentiment and speech this gets into wider issues of free speech that have been raised in New Zealand.

There are risks from people who claim the right to free speech to promote extreme views, to deliberately misrepresent, and to try to inflame and divide.

It is difficult to get a fair balance between the right to free speech and deliberate provocation and harm.

 

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42 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  October 27, 2018

    On the face of it this is an appalling ruling protecting stupid beliefs from valid challenges. Disgusting.

    Reply
  2. alloytoo

     /  October 27, 2018

    So which stupid belief gets priority?

    I’m invoking FSM.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  October 27, 2018

      Good move. Treat pompous stupidity with the ridicule it deserves.

      Reply
  3. David

     /  October 27, 2018

    Not really a surprise from a declining Europe that is so dripping wet it is desperate to show how tolerant it is to an invasion of intolerance. Supplicants.
    Britain has gone even further in making speech a criminal offence but they are looking at adding ageism to their stupid hate speech laws.

    Reply
  4. artcroft

     /  October 27, 2018

    No doubt the next step is for the court to explain why these ruling don’t apply to all religions. The followers of Christianity, scientology etc… shouldn’t expect the court to take them seriously. With the court saying things like “Christianity has always been more open to criticism, scientology is dangerous and mormonism is American”, so these faith don’t deserve state protection.

    Reply
    • artcroft

       /  October 27, 2018

      The western concept of the public space being a market place of ideas has been swept aside. Now, if you can demonstrate emotional harm you are exempt from having to submit your ideas to the test of the cynics. This is the ideology that Jordan Peterson rails against.

      But only a few privileged groups can claim emotional harm.

      Reply
    • Pink David

       /  October 27, 2018

      “No doubt the next step is for the court to explain why these ruling don’t apply to all religions. ”

      They don’t need to explain it Other religions are far less likely to have people running around with bombs and AK-47’s demanding submission.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  October 27, 2018

        Who has just been arrested in the US for posting bombs?

        Reply
        • Pink David

           /  October 27, 2018

          If your going to draw a parallel between an Animist who sends pipe bombs to Robert Da Niro and the cowardice that most of the EU have shown when faced with Islamist’s, you might need to show your working.

          Reply
  5. The ECHR upheld Austrian law.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  October 27, 2018

      Edgeler manages to ignore the ECHR spreading a bad law in one small country to the whole EU via its ruling. Why? Trying to play Lefty politics?

      Reply
      • Missy

         /  October 27, 2018

        Exactly Alan. The impact this law will have within Europe is quite dangerous. It protects one religion and its prophet above others in law, on a day the Irish population went to the polls to vote – not only on the President, but the country’s blasphemy laws.

        There is something quite sinister that as most of Europe looks to remove laws around blasphemy the ECHR upholds a decision that says defamation of a religious prophet is illegal.

        On the alleged defamation, I wonder why the court in Austria – and Europe – think it is defamation that someone labels a man who marries a nine year old a paedophile. All other history is judged on today’s standards except that?

        Also, on another, but related, subject, I saw something last weekend that said Finland are looking at bringing in a law that says sex with girls as young as 10 is not child abuse if it is the cultural norm of the person committing the act and if the child does not specifically say no. This is horrendous and puts the rights of girls (and in the longer term women) back centuries, to say that a man can have sex with a young girl if it is his culture, and she doesn’t object, is okay goes against all rights of children.

        This shows the influence of the influx of muslim integration.

        For those that pooh pooh any idea that it won’t happen in NZ, I would suggest Europe thought that 10 years ago as well, as the population of more traditional muslims increases in a country these kind of rulings seem to follow as Governments don’t wish to be seen as being racist, but all they do is provide fuel for the far right, no different to anti-muslim sentiment post terror attacks providing fuel for muslim extremists.

        Reply
        • Pink David

           /  October 27, 2018

          “Finland are looking at bringing in a law that says sex with girls as young as 10 is not child abuse if it is the cultural norm of the person committing the act and if the child does not specifically say no. ”

          There have been a number of rape trials involving very young girls in the UK where sentences have been very light on the grounds the man had ‘cultural differences’

          Also witness the increasing number of towns in the UK where a rape culture was allowed to prosper because of ‘cultural differences’. Rotherham, Huddersfield , Rochdale, Oxford, Halifax, Aylesbury.

          Dozens of poorer, Northern English towns had groups of men preying on young girls that was tolerated, and in cases, enabled, by agencies expected to protected them. You could be mistaken for believing it was a cultural norm in the UK.

          Reply
          • Missy

             /  October 27, 2018

            Indeed. the latest gang to be sentenced was in Huddersfield.

            Most of the gangs prey specifically on white girls, but some also target young sikh girls as well. The first group to really challenge the gangs with very little backlash (i.e: the standard ‘racist’ claims) were the sikh community.

            Reply
        • Gezza

           /  October 27, 2018

          I wonder why the court in Austria – and Europe – think it is defamation that someone labels a man who marries a nine year old a paedophile.
          In researching the despicable religion of Islam I joined an overseas forum where some Muslims who spoke excellent English, and one in particular was able to expertly rebut all ill-founded criticisms of Mohammed and the Quran with his superior knowledge of the Quran and Hadith.

          The claim Mohammed was a paedophile does not stand up to scholarly scrutiny and this is why it is an unsustainable one that is simply laughed at and ignored by Muslims as the most classic and well-know example of ignorant prejudice by unbelievers and spreaders of falsehoods.

          It is a charge I never level against the warlord Mohammed in arguing against Islam because it says instantly I don’t know what I am talking about and simply parroting the lies of Islam’s ignorant haters. There are plenty of other criticisms I am happy to make.

          It is commonly accepted that Mohammed married Aisha when she was very young because she was gifted to him to cement an alliance or friendship, in what was then an existing Arab cultural practice, and one which is or has been quite common in a number of tribally-based cultures throughout history, especially those which practice polygamy and where continual warring between tribes is also common and treaties are sought for alliances or to stop endless reciprocal revenge culture bloodletting.

          The practice of wealthy and/or powerful men & leaders of mature or old age being gifted, and marrying, even very young female children to cement tribal bonds, friendships or acknowledge fealty – was simply not unusual in that place at that time and there is no reliable evidence that Mohammed had sexual relations with Aisha, who genuinely loved him all her life, until she reached puberty.

          Reply
  6. artcroft

     /  October 27, 2018

    New question; so is it ok then for 50 year old Austrian Muslim men to marry 6 year olds?

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  October 27, 2018

      There is no reason to suppose that the marriage was consummated, any more than child marriages were in Europe.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  October 27, 2018

      Yep, Arty. The West is accepting towards Muslims. It’s the religion of peace and good will.
      Toddler brides..rape gangs.. you name it.

      It’s not only Muslims who have lost their moral compass, so have we. The difference is many Muslims have an excuse..the are pig ignorant. Living the life of a Neanderthal.

      We in the West have no excuse for our moral decay.

      Reply
  7. Pink David

     /  October 27, 2018

    “European Court says religious feelings and religious peace overrule free speech”

    That is not at all what it has said. You can hurt Christian and Jewish feelings to your hearts content. This is specifically a recognition that Islam is protected in the EU.

    Reply
    • Missy

       /  October 27, 2018

      So true, in fact anti-semitism is on the rise across Europe, more so in areas with high Muslim immigration. Many think that is not a coincidence.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  October 27, 2018

        what rot…anti semitism is trotted out at the slightest critique of Israel.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  October 27, 2018

          It’s on the rise across Europe. Any insights as to why, Blazer?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  October 27, 2018

            Yes. They are now officially an apartheid state and not just one in common practice if not law, and have stepped up murdering Palestinian protesters and resisters and ethnically cleansing Palestinian Arabs from even more of their land in order to steal it. When this is pointed out to them Zionists scream anti-Semitism. The ironic thing is that both Hebrew and Arabic are semitic languages and the Hebrew-speaking Zionists are therefore anti-semitic themselves.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  October 27, 2018

              Somali Muslims in Europe just know Jew boy needs to be dealt to. So do Muslims in New Zealand and the rest of the world.

              Taking your logic, Jews in Europe better get with the programme and start bashing Muslims..they don’t, to the best of my knowledge. Why is that?

            • Gezza

               /  October 27, 2018

              They go to Israel if they want to do that. I haven’t researched this Corks but maybe you have? I’m wondering, given that mass Muslim immigration to Europe and revolt against the EU seems to be driving an increase in the rise of the Far Right, who usually include white supremacists among their ranks, they are also possibly involved in some of the reported increase in anti-semitic behaviours. White supremacists everywhere seem to hate the Jews.

            • Missy

               /  October 27, 2018

              Gezza, there have been a number of reported anti semitic attacks in Germany this year carried out by Muslims and Arabic speaking men, with one of the most widely reported being carried out by a Palestinian yelling the arabic word for Jew. But yes, you are right the mass migration of large Muslim populations into Germany have nothing to do with it.

              Last year the German domestic security agency concluded that anti-semitic rhetoric spread by Islamic preachers posed a significant challenge to a peaceful and tolerant society. Over 50% of anti semitic harassment and assaults in Germany are done by Muslims, far right and far left are about equal in their instances with christians and others doing less. The growing Muslim population is bringing an increase in some crimes to Europe.

            • Gezza

               /  October 27, 2018

              @ Missy

              But yes, you are right the mass migration of large Muslim populations into Germany have nothing to do with it.

              Missy I did not say that. I am sure it has got a lot to do with it. I think it is madness to allow Muslims into Western European countries because it is an appallingly intolerant religion whose adherents don’t want to assimilate and will always be problematic when the numbers are large enuf for them not to have to pretend to.

        • Missy

           /  October 27, 2018

          What rot. There have been a number of violent attacks against Jews & synagogues in Europe, and these are rising. There have been a number of anti-semitic meetings/rallies, there has been a rise in hate speech towards Jews and attacks on their businesses.

          The anti-semitism is largely brushed away and not taken seriously in society by many claiming that anti semitism is trotted out at the slightest critique of Israel.

          Interestingly those that claim there isn’t a rise in anti-semitism because it is trotted out at the slightest critique of Israel are the same people that claim any critique of Islam is Islamaphobic and hate speech.

          Reply
  8. Pink David

     /  October 27, 2018

    “It is difficult to get a fair balance between the right to free speech and deliberate provocation and harm.”

    It is not difficult. The balance is simple, the right to free speech overrules all. Anything else is a step on the road to totalitarianism,

    Reply
  9. Missy

     /  October 27, 2018

    Reply
  10. Missy

     /  October 27, 2018

    Reply
  11. Missy

     /  October 27, 2018

    Looking at this ruling, is this where Europe is heading? Censorship in the name of peace and harmony, and should we be supporting such censorship?

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/22/what-have-i-done-for-my-words-to-be-censored

    Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists were killed for the crime of blasphemy, and today nothing has changed, if anything it has gotten worse as those that murdered those from Charlie Hebdo are now aided and abetted by the courts.

    The decisions like this one only vindicate those that would kill on the basis of their prophet being defamed or satirised.

    As a society surely we should not be supporting this? surely we should not be justifying this decision? Surely we should not be telling those that think it is okay to murder because they are offended that they are right and their beliefs are more valuable and above the beliefs of others?

    Reply
  12. High Flying Duck

     /  October 27, 2018

    Brexit is looking a better and better decision every day.
    Laws to prevent hurt feelings are abhorrent and the fact people cannot see this attack on free speech as a slippery slope to legally mandated group-think is frightening.
    Anyone complaining seems to be deemed an alt-right agitator.

    Reply
    • Missy

       /  October 27, 2018

      Spot on!

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  October 27, 2018

        Yup. Hoping she doesn’t mind I will repeat my conversation with Missy from yesterday’s Media Watch:
        . . . . . . . . . . . . .
        Gezza / October 27, 2018
        That’s ridiculous. Have they ruled on abusing any characters in the collected works of Grimm’s Fairy Tales & on slagging off Frodo and The Elfin King in Lord of The Rings as well?

        They’re all equally such obvious works of bloody fiction. That’s an outrageous decision. They’ve effectively ruled against the right of freedom of expression. What’s next?

        2 0 Rate This

        Missy / October 27, 2018
        The EU have a number of laws in the pipeline that will impact freedom of speech, mostly related around the Internet, but this is the first time any European institution has blatantly put one religion above others.

        1 0 Rate This

        Gezza / October 27, 2018
        They’ll have to go, Missy. 😡

        Who else have they got ? o_O

        0 0 Rate This

        Missy / October 27, 2018
        If the Brits have their way they will be gone!

        Don’t think they have anyone else, which is probably a good thing!

        1 0 Rate This

        Gezza / October 27, 2018
        Honestly, that is a really bad decision as I know probably all of us will agree. Stuff the Remainers – that Court is so compromised by stupidity it’s a travesty of Justice, not a beacon of it !

        2 0 Rate This

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  October 27, 2018

          Feel free to repeat the conversation G. 😀

          To be honest I missed your reply today, so I will say, I totally agree with you on that!

          But I would venture to say that the whole of the EU is compromised by stupidity not just the courts.

          Reply
  13. High Flying Duck

     /  October 27, 2018

    Another view:

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  October 27, 2018

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  October 27, 2018

        Geddis doubles down on his b.s. about a declaration that free speech is not a human right and religious beliefs cannot be offended.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  October 27, 2018

          Yes – I don’t tweet so didn’t challenge him on this, but his argument is the court said the sovereign courts in Austria didn’t overstep their bounds by saying this was not free speech.
          This to me is the aspect that people should be concerned about as it entrenches a view that free speech is restricted by people’s feelings.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  October 27, 2018

            Either this case is beyond the ECHR’s juristiction or it isn’t. The court appeared to rule it was within its juridiction and consequentially it then it endorsed the law and ruling.

            Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  October 27, 2018

      Reply

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