E C H R Rules Insulting Religion Is A Criminal Offence ….

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naomi24 | 08:13 Sat 27th Oct 2018 | News
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….after a woman who called the Prophet Mohammed a paedophile had her conviction upheld.

I’ve had a quick look and it appears that laws relating to blasphemy – albeit rather vaguely in some instances – are still in existence in some European countries.

One would have hoped that the ECHR – reputedly the doyen of fairness and good judgement - would be in full support of freedom of speech and expression for all, but clearly not. Worrying? I think so.


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'The first problem of the European Court of Human Rights decision against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is that it means that, at least in cases of blasphemy, truth is not a defence. Such a judgement hands over the decision on what is or is not allowed to be said not to a European or national court, but to whoever can claim, plausibly or otherwise, that another...
12:36 Tue 20th Nov 2018
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//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.//

And there you have it fair and square. This wasn’t a judgement based on legitimate human rights but one designed to preserve religious peace in Austria. In other words don’t upset the Muslims. Disgraceful.
Am I right in assuming the Austrian court of law and the ECHR have decided that something that COULD happen, ie "stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace" is more important than a persons freedom of speech?
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Yes, Vulcan, it would appear so.
Article 10 unfortunately has plenty of ambiguous language which makes it a pretty flimsy defense of free speech. As such, the blasphemy law in question, which is quite obviously a law limiting free expression for reasons that have nothing to do with national security or public safety, is not inconsistent with it.

This does rather raise the question of what the point of the Convention is (as does the authoritarian behaviour of member states like Russia or Turkey). I think it's premature to talk about leaving or abolishing the ECHR (I think it has does more good than harm so far) but this does certainly highlight the limitations of A10.
//There is a clear legal issue on which Peter Pedant could comment knowledgeably: whether the ECHR is constrained by domestic law (as ZM asserts), or whether it can override it (as Naomi asserts and as its advertised remit suggests).
What a pity he finds it too tiresome to make that comment//

//I don't think PP responds to non-sequiturs- or in this case maybe it's a plurium interrogationum. (Wot dan den)//

I hope all can receive this article by Douglas Murray in today's 'Coffee House' Spectator, if not say so and I'll cut and paste some relevant sections for those interested;;utm_campaign=Best_of_Coffee_House
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You'll need to cut and paste, Khandro. The full article isn't available to non-subscribers.
// What a pity he finds it too tiresome to make that comment// // no I left my laptop at a frenz

no I am not an international lawyer - wish I were, they dont seem to starve ( the successful ones anyway)

there is a thread on Law which has a few refs for those readers tired of AB outrage and wondering what the relation really is. so abolition ( or is that abolishment?) of the court is not seriously discussed there

fr'instance - is A10 weak or was it written/framed at a different time for different reasons ? [the latter]
are the judges trying to modernise the court whilst some signatories applaud and other signatories deplore ( yes)

// Am I right in concluding the Austrian court and ECHR decided something that COULD happen, ie "stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace" is more important than a persons freedom of speech?//

erm well there was balancing act - (unlike slavery for example which is absolute) - - which is not surprising. Even the Land of the Free has some bars to freedom of speech - to wit their rather weak libel laws.

and every time someone is arrested at a demonstration for breach of the peace, this is an example of the law ( common or statute) trumping the right to demonstrate or a curb on freedom of speech - so the answer is an unsurprising 'yeah but'
I've said this before, and I'll go on saying it: all laws regarding religion in this country, should be abolished. There should be no preferential treatment for religion of any description. If you want to do it , then fine. Do it. But that's it. Don't expect any special treatment or legislation which favours religion.

Religion should be treated as a hobby. A pass time that you participate in, the same as any other pass time and do it in your own time, at your own leisure.

Why do we have legislation based on fairy tales?
............. 'Let me jump another volume forward in my collection of Hadith. This is from ‘The Book of Marriage’:

‘Urwa narrated: The Messenger of Allah “Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him” married A’isha when she was six years old, and consummated his marriage with her when she was nine. She remained with him nine years (till he died).’ [5158]

Unwittingly, perhaps, the ECHR has brought us to something of an impasse in this ruling. For the hadith are – next to the Qur’an – the most important foundational texts of Islam. And they state, repeatedly and without caveat, that the founder of Islam had sex with a girl of nine, who he had married when she was six. Mohammed was 53 at this time.


We now know that in the 1970s the light entertainment section of the BBC did not frown on child abuse as it does now. Different customs appear to have existed in that different time. But we are still free to criticise that behaviour. Even though in the case of British TV presenter Jimmy Savile, there are many people still alive who knew him and would still have fond memories of him.

How odd it would be if the ECHR now decided that defaming the late Jimmy Savile should be punishable by law, and that neither truth nor evidence were any defence. That is what they have decided in the Mohammed case: that truth is not a justification and so something else comes into play.

Of course this is strange. If we are allowed to say that the recently-deceased Jimmy Savile had inappropriate relations with underage girls, then why is it illegal to say the same thing about the far longer-dead Mohammed? The answer is in that slimy little weasel-out of the ECHR: ‘religious peace’. To state what is in the texts of the Islamic religion risks – according to the ECHR – the peace which would otherwise exist between peoples.


The civilisational problem here is that the Strasbourg ruling creates a two-tier critical environment in Europe. It creates an environment in which anybody can make claims about anybody who is dead, apart from when the subject is Mohammed. Over time that is the sort of thing that might give a chap an advantage. And presumably if it is not possible to refer to his domestic arrangements with safety then there is no reason why in time people should continue to be able to say anything negative about other aspects of his career. Leaving Islam to be the only set of ideas which cannot be mentioned – never mind criticised – in what is meant to be a free society.'
It only creates a two tier environment in European countries which already have that law in place. Criticise the original law, but don’t blame the ECHR for pointing out that there was an existing law which applied.

How do you see it ‘giving a chap an advantage’?
Khandro, doesn't all of that give cause for abolishing all legislation about religion?
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Zacs, // …don’t blame the ECHR for pointing out that there was an existing law which applied.//

That isn't what they did. If the purpose of the ECHR was to uphold existing laws, there would be no reason for it to exist because every appeal would be met with rejection. In this instance the law didn’t apply anyway because the woman spoke the truth and truth cannot possibly be deemed ‘blasphemy’. The reason they made this judgement was to preserve religious peace in Austria. That’s what they said. Which bit of “… served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria” don’t you understand?
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Good article, Khandro.
Well, I don’t think we’re going to agree, NN. I see it as preserving a point of law (however wrong that law may be)which is fundamental to democracy. You see it as pandering to Islam (which, of course, you would) and a chance to criticise the ECHR.
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Zacs, //You see it as pandering to Islam //

Absolutely – because that’s precisely what it is. It’s all in the words “preserving religious peace”.

//a chance to criticise the ECHR.//

Not so. I think it does a valuable job …. sometimes.
//I see it as preserving a point of law (however wrong that law may be)which is fundamental to democracy//

The remit of the ECHR is to decide whether a person's rights under the European Convention have been violated, not whether he'd been correctly convicted under the domestic law.

If that were its remit it would not be called the European Court of Human Rights, it would be called the European Court of Did they get it Rights.
Then why did the ECHR uphold the domestic law?
The ECHR agreed that ES's right to freedom of speech had been "interfered with", but agreed with the Austrian court's judgment that
what ES said and how she said it constituted a threat to "religious peace", and thus a legitimate "special circumstance" for silencing her.

What "religious peace" means, of course, is that if you criticise Islam Muslims will become violent and it will be your criticism, not their intolerance and lack of self-control which is to blame.

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