The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that defaming the Prophet Muhammad “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate”, upholding an earlier conviction by an Austrian court on the grounds it “served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria”.
The ECHR found that a 47-year-old woman from Vienna had not had her right to freedom of expression impinged and added that domestic courts had been correct to convict her for “disparaging religious doctrines” as her comments “could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace”.
According to the ECHR, the woman held two seminars in 2009 “in which she discussed the marriage between the Prophet Muhammad and a six-year-old girl, Aisha, which allegedly was consummated when she was nine. Inter alia, the applicant stated that Muhammad ‘liked to do it with children’ and ‘… A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?'”
The Austrian court found that “by making the statements the applicant had suggested that Muhammad was not a worthy subject of worship”. The ECHR has now agreed that this is a crime which trumps a person’s right to free speech. On the same day that Ireland is finally voting to take blasphemy laws out of its constitution, the ECHR seems determined to put them back in…