News

World

European Human-Rights Court: Defaming Muhammad Not Protected Speech

Members of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, in 2017. (Jean-Francois Badias/Pool/via Reuters)

Defamatory statements about the prophet Muhammad are not covered by free-speech protections, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday.

The Strasbourg-based court found that insulting the prophet “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace.”

In its ruling, the court rejected an Austrian woman’s claim that her previous conviction for characterizing Muhammad as a “pedophile” violated her free-speech rights, finding instead that the Austrian court had “carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected.”

In a series of public seminars, the women cited Muhammad’s marriage to a six-year-old girl, which, according to Islamic lore, was consummated when she was nine, as evidence of his pedophilia.

Muhammad “liked to do it with children,” the woman said during one of the seminars. “A 56-year-old and a 6-year-old? . . . What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”

The woman was initially convicted of disparaging religious doctrines by a Vienna court in 2011 and sentenced to pay a $547 fine. An Austrian appeals court later upheld the decision.

While the woman argued that her comments were intended to inform the public debate over the merits of different religious traditions, the court argued that her remarks lacked the proper historical context.

Most Popular

U.S.

Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More
Books

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More
Education

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More