European Courts Have Opened the Way for the Criminalization of Blasphemy

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.

Read more at Gatestone

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

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict