Sunday, 4 November 2018

Elisabeth and Asia

On 25th October 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) reached a decision in respect of the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff. They determined that protection under Article 10 (freedom of expression) did not apply in her case and thus upheld the judgement of the Austrian court that had convicted her for “denigrating religious beliefs”.

A good summary of the case can be found here. In brief, Elisabeth gave a series of lectures in 2009 in which she addressed the dangers of fundamentalist Islam. A left-leaning magazine, News, planted a journalist in the audience to make recordings of what was said. Having done this the magazine handed the recordings to the public prosecutor’s office as evidence of "hate speech" against Islam.

What Elisabeth actually said, in the context of a discussion about Muhammad’s marriage to six-year-old Aisha was this: "A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?"

The prosecution started by attempting to convict her of “hate speech”. Hate speech is defined in Section 283 of the Austrian criminal code as (using Google Translate which does not actually have Austrian), publicly expressing views which may lead to the scorn or disparagement in the eyes of the public towards a group on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, race, etc.  So, if you say something which is actually true but can cause such effects on public opinion you are guilty of hate speech.

The prosecution went up various blind alleys in their attempt to prevent such statements of fact but eventually the judgement handed down was “denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion”. They imposed a fine of €480 or an alternative prison sentence of 60 days. Thus, however, repulsive or immoral the behaviour, if it is sanctioned by a legally recognized religion you cannot criticise it or even say what it is.

Elisabeth took her case to the EHCR in the hope of a rectification. Their judgement is a catalogue of mangled reasoning which offends logic.

The court began by stating that religious groups could not expect to be exempt from criticism. But if comments went beyond critical denial, “and certainly where they were likely to incite religious
intolerance, might a State legitimately consider them to be incompatible with respect for the
freedom of thought, conscience and religion and take proportionate restrictive measures.”

It’s not clear to me whose “religious intolerance” they are talking about but given this comes up in the context of religious groups and their exposure to criticism it seems to imply the people whose religion is being criticised. That being the case, the logic flowing from this is clear enough: the more intolerant a religious group is of criticism of their beliefs the less they can be criticised.

I can't help wondering what sort of contradictions of religious beliefs would not incite religious intolerance.

The EHCR further observed that the subject of the case was of a “particularly sensitive nature” and the State of Austria was “in a better position to evaluate which statements were likely to disturb the religious peace in their country.”

This can mean nothing other than riots and mobs; the assassination of judges, politicians and so forth.

“The Court noted that the domestic courts comprehensively explained why they considered that the
applicant’s statements had been capable of arousing justified indignation; specifically, they had not
been made in an objective manner contributing to a debate of public interest (e.g. on child
marriage), but could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad
was not worthy of worship.” And this could not possibly be true of a man who married a six-year-old girl?

But this above all shows how corrupted the thought processes of these judges has become: It agreed with the domestic courts that Mrs S. must have been aware that her statements were partly based on untrue facts and apt to arouse indignation in others.

What, pray, are “untrue facts”? It’s a contradiction in terms. Either they are facts and therefore true or they are not facts and therefore untrue. This is the grovelling level of “thinking” that the penultimate court in Europe is reduced to by the fear of the Muslim mob.

And their summing up: Under these circumstances, and given the fact that Mrs S. made several incriminating statements, the Court considered that the Austrian courts did not overstep their wide margin of appreciation in the instant case when convicting Mrs S. of disparaging religious doctrines. Overall, there had been no violation of Article 10. (my italics).

It's a long time since disparaging religious doctrines was a punishable offence in Europe, but now that Islam has arrived it's all going to change.

In Pakistan this last week, following the acquittal of Asia Bibi on blasphemy charges, the mobs erupted in fury that someone who has already spent 8 years in prison in terrible conditions was not going to be hanged for expressing a legitimate Christian opinion about (you guessed it) Muhammad. (Are Muslims allowed to worship Muhammad or is that not idolatry?)

What she said, after a dispute with her Muslim co-workers who claimed that their drinking water had been contaminated because she had drunk from the same vessel was this: I think Jesus would see it differently from Muhammad, Jesus died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Muhammad ever do to save mankind?

Under Sharia, interfaith dialogue is somewhat restricted to say the least. You can listen politely to the Muslim perspective but you can’t propose anything different or criticise Islam. So poor Asia ended up incarcerated on death row and fearing every day that she would be killed in prison or eventually executed.

But light appeared to break through the clouds of religious darkness when the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted her. One was greatly relieved but felt anxious of the aftermath.

And justly so. The judges were threatened with death and as fundamentalists brought the mobs onto the streets demanding her execution one wondered how the situation might be resolved. Could she be whisked out of the country by Navy Seals; would President Trump give them an ultimatum and get her out?

It was not to be. The acquittal is now to be reviewed due to the level of social disorder aroused. The mob has won.

Behold, how Islam turns Muslim hearts to stone.

The authorities have struck a deal with the mob leaders which involves starting proceedings to prevent Asia from leaving the country (thus making it easier for them to hunt her down and kill her).
The government will also allow protesters to mount a legal challenge to the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit her.

What we see in these two cases is essentially the same thing. Fear of the Muslim mob drives decision-making. The European judges with all their muddle-headed thinking and weasel words has succumbed to the same forces of religious intolerance as the Pakistanis.

The problem is extremely widespread. For example, 100,000 UK Muslims signed a petition demanding Asia’s execution.

The EHCR claims to be upholding tolerance but they are bowing to intolerance of the worst kind. In fact, by this judgement, the EHCR has undermined one of the key foundations of European life: freedom of speech. This will have far more serious consequences than even the "disturbance of religious peace"...if indeed you can describe sitting on a box of explosives as peace.

We know these forces of intolerance are growing with every Muslim born in the West and every Muslim migrant arriving. The power of numbers will enable them to impose their rules on the rest of us. These dark days are only the beginning.