Could a court ruling like this attack on free speech be coming to a jurisdiction near you?
The European Court of Human Rights ruled against an appeal by an Austrian national woman known as ‘Mrs. S.” on Thursday stating that the defamation of the Prophet Muhammad “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace” and thus exceeds the permissible limits of freedom of expression, according to the Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency.
In 2009, Mrs. S. held two seminars titled “Basic Information on Islam.”
“According to a statement released by the court on Thursday, the Vienna Regional Criminal Court found that these statements implied that Muhammad had pedophilic tendencies, and in February 2011 convicted Mrs. S. for disparaging religious doctrines,” AA reported.
Mrs. S. has been fighting this battle for free speech for a long time.
After she lost in the Vienna Regional Criminal Court, she appealed to the Supreme Court but was denied a request for the renewal of the proceedings in December of 2013 according to AA.
The original complaint against Mrs. S. said that during one of her seminars she said Muhammad was a pedophile because of his marriage to a 6-year-old girl named Aisha, Reason reported.
“A 56-year-old and a 6-year-old? What do you call that? Give me an example?” she reportedly said. “What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”
The European Convention on Human Rights, Article 10, states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.”
So Mrs. S. thought she had protection under Article 10 and lower courts failed to take into consideration her freedom of expression. She appealed to the ECHR where she was eventually shut down.
The ECHR “found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant’s statements and carefully balanced her 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,” according to the AA.
The slippery slope of free speech appears to come with the caveat in Article 10 of ECHR that says, “The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”
It appears speech in Europe is only free if you don’t offend anyone.
In November of 2015, a town in Hamtramck, Michigan, was reported to be the first city in America with a majority Muslim population.
Hamtramck has been, for decades, a town of Polish immigrants.
Right after the Nov. 3, 2015, election, community organizer Ibrahim Algahim expressed glee that the immigrants who had built the town up were no longer in power. “Today, we show the Polish and everybody else,” he said.
And show them, they did. It’s now illegal to serve alcohol within 500 feet of a mosque in Hamtramck, which is surrounded by Detroit and is the most densely populated town in Michigan with a population of 22,000.
Mrs. S isn’t the first casualty of a decline of free speech in Western countries across the world and she’s not likely to be the last. Europe seems to have been consumed with accommodating Muslim sensibilities and it has cost them dearly because they no longer clearly have the right to speak freely.
Could America be next?
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