European Courts Uphold Blasphemy Laws

Oct. 31 2018

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

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy