Complications of ECHR's ruling on defamation of Prophet Muhammad.

Written 05.07.2019

Since I will be discussing European court system I should probably remind people that ruling was made by European Court Of Human Rights (ECHR) which is not EU court. It is court of Council Of Europe which is older orginazation then EU. Nevertheless court has power over European countries and as such its rulings could be read similiar ligth as highest court of a nation.


Ruling on the matter can be found here[alt]. Case has some case law references which I am not going to look here.


Applicant is Austrian how held seminars titled "Basic Information on Islam" ("Grundlagen des Islams") at the Freedom Party Education Institute (Bildungsinstitut der Freiheitlichen Partei Österreichs). Seminars where public and advertised to public. One of the participants was undercover journalist. Journalist reported to police which then lauched investigation which lead to charge of inciting hatred (Verhetzung or Article 283 of the Criminal Code). Prosecution drop the inciting hatred charge but applicant was convicted on disparaging religious doctrines (Herabwürdigung religiöser Lehren or article 188 of the Criminal Code) concerning three statments which Vienna Regional Criminal Court found:

"publicly disparaging an object of veneration of a domestic church or religious society - namely Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam - in a manner capable of arousing justified indignation".

She did try to appeal in Austria however both appeals court and supreme court agreed with lower courts opion.


Statements essiantly boiled down Muhammad being paedophile. Most of this relates to Muhammad's wife Aisha how doesn't appear at Quran far as I know. She appears in the Hadiths but there is debate of her age. She could have been six when their marrigies started but Muhammed parently waited until she was nine before marriage was consummated. ECHR on it's ruling doesn't analyse factual bases of the allegation. Rather it states:

". . . (potential) effects of impugned statements depend, to a certain degree, on the situation in the country . . . the Court therefore considers that the domestic authorities had a wide margin of appreciation in the instant case, as they were in a better position to evaluate which statements were likely to disturb the religious peace in their country."

I have to disagree court on this matter. Even though it is nice ruling in the sense that all is not lost since any member of Council Of Europe can make there own decisions. This could include protection on "Muhammad is paedophile" debate far as I understand. However human rights shouldn't change when you cross nations border. In reality sure EU China "border" our rights will change but what is the point of the ECHR. To keep Europe in same page on human rights? Also I would like to note that local authorities eventhough closer to the pulse of the culture of the country perhaps are still too far away from to their knowledge to matter. Internet has caused that individual may have more common culture with country five countries over then one's local culture. There for local authorities really can't say what culture behavior citizen should have.


So why did court think that this ruling ethical. Well they may have had technical reason. Earlier in the judgment:

"41. While the applicant stressed that her statements had never been aimed at disparaging Muhammad, she did not dispute the legitimate purpose of criminal convictions under Article 188 of the Criminal Code, namely to protect religious peace. The Court endorses the Government’s assessment that the impugned interference pursued the aim of preventing disorder by safeguarding religious peace, as well as protecting religious feelings, which corresponds to protecting the rights of others within the meaning of Article 10 § 2 of the Convention."

Applicant may being having her cake and eat it too by not trying to dispute "protect religious peace" bullshit, she is after all native European Christian woman which means this ruling should cause citizen to defend our own Judeo-Christian culture [source]. So I don't think she minds too much about the law since zombie said he went to heaven or least irony here is that Christians wrote these laws. She rather try to say that her claims are:

". . . a historically proven fact and raised the question whether this could be regarded as paedophilia . . ."

which fails since court didn't do any analyses on this.


Is interesting to read applicants complaint to the Grand Chamber of ECHR (which was rejected) since she does make argument that opposition never proofed that violence was caused or asked to occur by speech she made. I haven't read did Austrian goverment made any such claim but ECHR doesn't say it has. I will go to futher and say I haven't see any evidence suggest that "religious feelings" are not worth to project. When court says "justified indignation" to me that means mod rule. These are just people how don't like some being right or hitting in spot. I mean these are actual words from the judgment:

The Court reiterates that a religious group must tolerate the denial by others of their religious beliefs and even the propagation by others of doctrines hostile to their faith . . .

. . . applicant’s statements . . . could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not a worthy subject of worship (see paragraph 22 above).

How the court does not see the countradiction here! Ignoring courts wording of worship propagation ones reliogness or non-reliogness means that one was turned one to a other by telling that object of veneration/worship is not worthy of it. Unless court is saying that it is fine to go after atheist and turn them religious but not folk from other religions. This would make propagation of atheism illegal so I don't understand what court is saying.


For my final point. How did ruling project peace between religous groups? If you read anything from applicant she is clearly saying that Christians are prosecuted since there symbol of veneration aren't protected. I disagree with her since fast glance I don't see anything there is really comparable in eyes of the court but doesn't this now say to these people that they are right. That they should be more violent againt muslims since they aren't allowed make arguments. But no bigger problem is Freedom Party not why Freedom Party exists.