European Courts Have Opened the Way for the Criminalization of Blasphemy

Nov. 27 2018

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently upheld the decision of an Austrian court to fine Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff for the crime of “disparaging religious doctrines” after she commented on the prophet Muhammad’s supposed marriage to a six-year-old. In its decision, the ECHR stated that the Austrian courts “carefully balanced [Sabaditsch-Wolff’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.” Douglas Murray comments:

The first problem brought by the ECHR decision to uphold the Austrian court’s verdict against Sabaditsch-Wolff is that it means that, at least in cases of blasphemy, truth is not a defense. There is—as every Islamic scholar knows—significant evidence from [traditional Islamic texts] to allow someone to make a perfectly plausible case along the lines that Sabaditsch-Wolff did. But the courts went further. They claimed that her statements were based on “untrue facts”—whatever those might be. As I have pointed out elsewhere, this poses a serious problem for Europeans. It tells us that words we can read with our own eyes, and which are in books freely available anywhere in the world, do not say the words that they say. What are we to do? Lie? Apparently so. . . .

[Another] problem is, of course, that such a judgment 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 individual has risked “the peace.” . . .

Why shouldn’t any other group in Austria other than Muslims claim, on a routine basis, that their feelings have been hurt and announce to the courts that, as a result, “peace” has been put at risk? If I were an Austrian Christian of a fundamentalist bent, I might well think about attending various lectures and sermons at a range of Austrian mosques, waiting until one of the speakers denies the divinity and resurrection of Christ and then run straight to the courts. After all, a denial of the resurrection of Christ by a Muslim could be deemed to be seriously offensive to a Christian and who is to say that “peace” will not be at risk as a result?

There is a complacency that has settled across Europe. This complacency is amply demonstrated by those happy to say that what has just happened at the ECHR is really nothing important. They are wrong. It is extremely important. Not just because it is an awful example of the morally bewildered decade we are in, but because it sets the stage horribly—for Muslims and non-Muslims—for decades to come.

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More about: Austria, European Islam, European Union, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Politics & Current Affairs

“Ending the War in Yemen” Would Lead to More Bloodshed and Threaten Global Trade

Dec. 13 2018

A bipartisan movement is afloat in Congress to end American support for the Saudi-led coalition currently fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. With frustration at Riyadh over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, reports of impending famine and a cholera outbreak in Yemen, and mounting casualties, Congress could go so far as to cut all funding for U.S. involvement in the war. But to do so would be a grave mistake, argues Mohammed Khalid Alyahya:

Unfortunately, calls to “stop the Yemen war,” though morally satisfying, are fundamentally misguided. . . . A precipitous disengagement by the Saudi-led coalition . . . would have calamitous consequences for Yemen, the Middle East, and the world at large. The urgency to end the war reduces that conflict, and its drivers, to a morality play, with the coalition of Arab states cast as the bloodthirsty villain killing and starving Yemeni civilians. The assumption seems to be that if the coalition’s military operations are brought to a halt, all will be well in Yemen. . . .

[But] if the Saudi-led coalition were to cease operations, Iran’s long arm, the Houthis, would march on areas [previously controlled by the Yemeni government] and exact a bloody toll on the populations of such cities as Aden and Marib with the same ruthlessness with which they [treated] Sanaa and Taiz during the past three years. The rebels have ruled Sanaa, kidnapping, executing, disappearing, systematically torturing, and assassinating detractors. In Taiz, they fire mortars indiscriminately at the civilian population and snipers shoot at children to force residents into submission.

[Moreover], an abrupt termination of the war would leave Iran in control of Yemen [and] deal a serious blow to the global economy. Iran would have the ability to obstruct trade and oil flows from both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb strait. . . . About 24 percent of the world’s petroleum and petroleum products passes through these two waterways, and Iran already has the capability to disrupt oil flows from Hormuz and threatened to do so this year. Should Iran acquire that capability in Bab el-Mandeb by establishing a foothold in the Gulf of Aden, even if it chose not to utilize this capability oil prices and insurance costs would surge.

Allowing Tehran to control two of the most strategic choke points for the global energy market is simply not an option for the international community. There is every reason to believe that Iran would launch attacks on maritime traffic. The Houthis have mounted multiple attacks on commercial and military vessels over the past several years, and Iran has supplied its Yemeni proxy with drone boats, conventional aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

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More about: Iran, Oil, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen