European Courts Uphold Blasphemy Laws

Last week the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled against an Austrian woman, known to us only as “Mrs. S,” who, while teaching a seminar on Islam, suggested that the Quran’s account of Mohammad’s marriage at the age of fifty-six to a six-year-old describes pedophilia. Mrs. S. had appealed to the ECHR, claiming that the Austrian courts that fined her for this statement had violated her freedom of speech. Sohrab Ahmari explains:

[In 2011, an Austrian] regional court found that her “statements implied that Mohammad had pedophilic tendencies, and convicted Mrs. S. for disparaging religious doctrines,” per an ECHR news release. “She was ordered to pay a fine of 480 euros and the costs of the proceedings.” Mrs. S. appealed, but the higher courts in Austria upheld the lower court decision.

The ECHR’s final ruling was an exercise in bending the law to reach a politically favored outcome. The court began from the . . . questionable premise that states can legitimately restrict free expression when “religious intolerance” was at stake. It went on to divine that this was indeed such a case. Mrs. S.’s statements about Mohammad, though accurate, implicated especially sensitive subject matter, per the ECHR, and they didn’t contribute to a “debate of public interest,” such as one on the issue of child marriage. . . .

The conclusion: “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.”

But notice the unstated premise here: the ECHR is suggesting that discussing the history of Islam and the psychology its founder for their own sake is not in the “public interest.” The court is arrogating to itself and the individual European states the power to decide which topics Europeans are permitted to debate and on what terms. This will not end well for European liberal elites, who imagine they can use coercive judicial power to shut down debates about immigration and assimilation and Islam’s place in Europe.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Austria, European Union, Freedom of Religion, Mohamed

 

Would an American-Backed UN Resolution Calling for a Temporary Ceasefire Undermine Israel?

Yesterday morning, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by Algeria, that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As an alternative, the American delegation has been circulating a draft resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” Benny Avni comments:

While the Israel Defense Force may be able to maintain its Gaza operations under that provision, the U.S.-proposed resolution also warns the military against proceeding with its plan to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel says that a critical number of Hamas fighters are hiding inside tunnels and in civilian buildings at Rafah, surrounded by a number of the remaining 134 hostages.

In one paragraph, the text of the new American resolution says that the council “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

In addition to the paragraph about Rafah, the American-proposed resolution is admonishing Israel not to create a buffer zone inside Gaza. Such a narrow zone, as wide as two miles, is seen by many Israelis as a future protection against infiltration from Gaza.

Perhaps, as Robert Satloff argues, the resolution isn’t intended to forestall an IDF operation in Rafah, but only—consistent with prior statements from the Biden administration—to demand that Israel come up with a plan to move civilians out of harms way before advancing on the city.

If that is so, the resolution wouldn’t change much if passed. But why is the U.S. proposing an alternative ceasefire resolution at all? Strategically, Washington has nothing to gain from stopping Israel, its ally, from achieving a complete victory over Hamas. Why not instead pass a resolution condemning Hamas (something the Security Council has not done), calling for the release of hostages, and demanding that Qatar and Iran stop providing the group with arms and funds? Better yet, demand that these two countries—along with Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon—arrest Hamas leaders on their territory.

Surely Russia would veto such a resolution, but still, why not go on the offensive, rather than trying to come up with another UN resolution aimed at restraining Israel?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship, United Nations