The Loss of Freedom of Speech in Europe

Tom Wallace

The shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA has reopened the debate on prejudice and hate crimes. If we are going to discuss these issues, we must first understand what the words mean.

Hate Crime

A hate crime is a prejudice-motivated crime which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership in a certain social group or race. (Wikipedia)

The idea of a hate crime supposes that we can know what is in the mind of a person. When a person states that what was done was based upon hate we can assume that it was a hate crime. On the other hand, when the person states that it was done because of some principle that is believed to be the truth, it cannot be determined that the crime was motivated by hatred.

What happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue can be classified as a hate crime because of the statements coming from the perpetrator, and because a real crime was committed. On the other hand, when a person makes a statement concerning the beliefs and practices of Islam, no real crime has been committed. The politically correct world we live in classifies both as hate crimes.

Prejudice

  • an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.

  • any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.

  • unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.

(Dictionary.com)

Prejudice is generally thought of as being negative; concerning prejudice against someone because of their race, religion, or national origin, it usually is. We must also understand that it is not necessarily so. There are also positive prejudices. Here is an inoffensive example: When I see a beautiful cake, my prejudice is that it will taste as good as it looks. I personally have strong positive prejudices toward the French people because of my close family ties to them. Our culture and our religion also cause us to have prejudices based upon our value system.

Before I get into the meat of this article I want to say a few words about the statistics concerning hate crimes in America. We have seventeen years of data from the FBI on this subject. The media tells us that America is strongly prejudiced against Muslims. They call it “Islamophobia.”

Phobia

An exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. (Merriam-Webster)

Those who use the term “Islamophobia” are saying that, in America, we have an irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. The data from the FBI does not support this accusation. Nine percent of the hate crimes in America are against Christians, sixteen percent are against Muslims, and seventy-five percent are against Jews.

We see that America has an anti-Semitic sentiment that is much greater than any anti-Islamic sentiment. You now have the facts on this issue. You now understand why we see things like the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

The big news I want to cover today is a decision by the European Human Rights Court (EHRC). I believe it was a wrong decision because it supports Shariah Law. The EHRC has ruled that criticism of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, constitutes incitement to hatred and is, therefore, not protected free speech.

The ruling has effectively established a dangerous legal precedent. It curtails freedom of speech in Europe if that speech is deemed to be offensive to Muslims and thus poses a threat to religious peace. The EHRC has jurisdiction over 47 European countries, and its rulings are legally binding on all 28 member states of the European Union.

This ruling has legitimized Islamic blasphemy laws which say it is blasphemy to criticize Allah or his Prophet. The penalty under Shariah Law for blasphemy is death. Do you see where this is headed?

This case involves Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian woman who, in 2011, was convicted of “denigrating religious beliefs” after giving a series of lectures about the dangers of fundamentalist Islam.

The offending speech was an offhand comment by Sabaditsch-Wolff that Mohammed was a pedophile because he married his wife Aisha when she was just six or seven years old. Sabaditsch-Wolff’s actual words were, “A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”

Here is the ruling:

“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. 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. The national courts found that Mrs S. had subjectively labeled Muhammad with pedophilia as his general sexual preference, and that she failed to neutrally inform her audience of the historical background, which consequently did not allow for a serious debate on that issue. Hence, the Court saw no reason to depart from the domestic courts’ qualification of the impugned statements as value judgments which they had based on a detailed analysis of the statements made.

“The Court found in conclusion that in the instant case the domestic courts carefully balanced the applicant’s right to freedom of expression with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected, and to have religious peace preserved in Austrian society.

“The Court held further that even in a lively discussion it was not compatible with Article 10 of the Convention 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.

“Lastly, since Mrs S. was ordered to pay a moderate fine and that fine was on the lower end of the statutory range of punishment, the criminal sanction could not to be considered as disproportionate.

“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.”

The truth is, Muhammad had sexual desires toward a six-year-old girl and took her as his wife. He did not consummate the marriage until she was nine years old, but the desire was there when she was six. This is not an idle accusation, it is recorded in the holy writings of Islam, the Sunna.

Pedophilia

The act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children. (Dictionary.com)

According to this definition, Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff was factually correct. The fact that she was had no influence on the decision of the EHRC. I guess that facts don’t matter, but feelings do. If the truth offends a Muslim, it is a hate crime to tell the truth.

The United Nations has approved a non-binding resolution (UN Resolution 16/18) over and over again for years. This resolution had tried to make the denigration of religion a criminal offense. There have been changes in the resolution over the years. In the early versions, it was very clear that it was referring to the denigration of Islam. The change from Islam to religion came under the leadership of Hillary Clinton because without that change the United States would not sign it. The application, however, has only been toward those who dare say anything Islam does not like.

The OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) has pressed Western democracies to implement United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 16/18, which calls on all countries to combat “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of … religion and belief.”

The prejudice toward Islam is evident in the fact that there have been many resolutions in the United Nations condemning Israel. No other nation has been condemned nearly as much as Israel. I am thankful that the United States has stood with Israel, and that this stand has even become stronger under the Trump Administration.

Resolution 16/18 and the decision by the EHRC has raised the protection of Islam above that of any other religion. This decision is welcomed by the Islamic community. It is bad news for us, as Christians, because we have a mandate from God to expose error.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)

I would like to point out that Muslims have a mandate from their scriptures to defend their faith also. There have been no cases against Muslims when they denigrate other religions, but there are often cases brought against those who criticize Islam.

Why do you suppose the EU and the UN are supporting Islam against other religions? The reason is quite simple. If we oppose Islam we are marked for death and it results in riots and terror attacks. If we oppose Christianity, no such thing happens.

Believe me, if we don’t stand against those who would destroy our freedoms this is coming to America and we will lose them. The EHRC decision is just one more proof of this.