Friday, February 18, 2011

Convicted for Calling Muhammad a “Paedophile”

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Henrik Ræder Clausen has compiled a lucid and thorough analysis of the case against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, and the questionable — dare I say ludicrous? — legal sleight-of-hand which was used to convict her.


Convicted for calling Muhammad a ‘paedophile’
by Henrik Ræder Clausen

In Austria, calling Muhammad a ‘paedophile’ constitutes illegal denigration of “religious teachings”. This is what Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was found guilty of in an Austrian court. Read on for an analysis of the puzzling verdict.

Acquitted and convicted

There is now a conviction against Austrian citizen Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (ESW), who stood trial on a charge of “incitement to hatred” at a series of seminars educating about political Islam and the challenges we face. The case was closed on February 15th 2011 by judge Bettina Neubauer, who gave the following verdict to ESW, who was also convicted of being a “Repeat offender”, in spite of this conviction being her first:

  • Acquitted on the charge of incitement to hatred
  • Convicted for denigration of the teachings of a legally recognized religion.
  • Punishment: 120 day fines for a total of 480 euros.

This verdict deserves analysis and scrutiny.

The original charges

Acquittal first: The charge of incitement to hatred was originally the main point of the case. The defence has countered that charge in two different ways:

First by going through factual details of the lectures, documenting that everything said there was firmly based on Islamic source material, for instance Reliance of the Traveller from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo. The defence even shouldered the cost of an authorized translation of relevant passages into German, so that they might be accepted by the court. The judge took the documentation into the case, and the public prosecutor did not challenge the validity of it.

Second, the defence had recordings from the seminars played in court, demonstrating that they had been held in a peaceful tone, going through the substance of the material taught, letting the audience ask about detail they had not understood immediately.

Playing the recordings made another important point, namely that some of the quotes used by the prosecution as being from Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff were in reality from members of the audience, and that quotes from the lectures had been mixed with out-of-context comments from small-talk in the coffee breaks.

The public prosecutor, who had made no statements or comments since his initial statement in the first hearing, did not challenge this interpretation.

During the first hearing, the defence had made the prosecutor admit that he had not gone through the primary evidence in the case (the audio recordings), but had instead relied on a transcript provided by the journalist from the Austrian magazine NEWS.at, who filed the original police report.

The expected acquittal

After having gone through this material at the first two hearings, the audience of the case had a clear expectation that ESW would be acquitted of the charges and have her name cleared. But at the end of the second hearing, the judge added an unexpected twist to the case:

She inquired of ESW about her comments that the actions of Muhammad would today be considered ‘paedophilia’. While ensuring a nod of approval from the prosecutor, she then extended the charges to also encompass “Denigrating the teachings of a legally recognized religion”.

The defence attorney requested time to work on this additional charge, as he had not prepared defending his client from this point of view.

An inheritance from the Austrian-Hungarian Empire

It might sound odd that the judge can extend the charges in a trial as she sees fit, but that is actually possible under Austrian law. The charge was specifically for denigrating the teachings of a religion recognized by the Austrian state.

This recognition was granted in 1912 through the law Islamgesetz, which had as its primary purpose to integrate Bosnia-Herzegovina more fully into the Empire, and Bosnian soldiers more effectively into the Imperial army. Since Bosnia-Herzegovina was lost to the Empire after World War One, the original purpose of the law was gone. However, it remained on the books, and for that reason Islam and its teachings enjoy special protection under Austrian law.

Understanding ‘paedophilia’ correctly

Having a legal ban on denigrating the teachings of Islam can be problematic, for many unpleasant points are made in the Quran, including those concerning Jews, the position of women, ‘hypocrites’ who call themselves Muslims but refuse to go to war for the Cause of Allah, and not least statements against ‘infidels’, who do not consider Muhammad a prophet or Allah worthy of their devotion.

But in spite of the extensive references made to unpleasant Quranic passages in the lectures held by ESW, this was not the point of the charges.

Instead, they focused on what had earlier earned Susanne Winter a conviction, to wit: That according to modern standards, Muhammad would be considered a paedophile. It was well thought-out by the judge to first confirm from ESW that she had mentioned the subject before extending the charges, and it was this specific point that led to the conviction.

What is paedophilia?

First we need to understand what ‘paedophilia’ actually is. From The American Heritage(r) Stedman’s Medical Dictionary:

“The act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children.”

Paedophilia as a mental state rather than action

It is worth noting that paedophilia is a mental state (being sexually attracted by children), not an actual act (having sexual relations with children). Paedophilia is not punishable in and of itself, although possession and distribution of child pornography is in many countries. Sexual relations with minors, on the other hand, are obviously criminal and punishable.

Another detail was decisive for the result of the case, namely that ‘paedophilia’ has different meanings to the general public as opposed to among specialists. To the general public, a ‘paedophile’ signifies a person who actually engages in sexual activities with minors, that is, child molesters. For good reason, this is what concerns ordinary people, and parents in particular: actual acts that put children at risk. The word is used this way, for example, in this Telegraph report.

Among professionals, however, the word covers the urge to primarily have sexual relations with minors. The urge is what matters, not whether or not that urge has led to actual child molestation.

Judge Neubauer in her verdict pointed out this distinction between paedophilia as a mental attitude as opposed to paedophilia as actual actions, and underscored that in professional circles this label applies to the mental state of having one’s primary sexual attraction directed to prepubescent children.

Mohammad acquitted of paedophilia

On this basis, judge Neubauer found that it was not legally acceptable to apply the label ‘paedophile’ to Muhammad, for two distinct reasons:

1. Apart from the marriage to Aisha, which was formalized when she was 6 and consummated at the age of 9, Muhammad had many other women, in wedlock, as mistresses, or as war booty. This documents the fact that Muhammad did not have a primary sexual attraction directed towards minors.
2. The marriage, and thus the sexual relations with Aisha, did not end when she reached puberty, but continued until she was 18 and Muhammad died. This further underscores the fact that Muhammad was not attracted to her primarily due to her being a minor.

Illegal denigration of Muhammad

For this reason, judge Neubauer found that using the label ‘paedophile’ was unreasonable and constituted an illegal denigration of Muhammad, that Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff had therefore made herself guilty of denigrating the teachings of a legally recognized religion, and was thus convicted to pay 120 “day fines” for a total of €480 for her offence.

The fact that the word ‘paedophile’ has a different meaning to non-professionals, and that ESW is not a certified expert in the field, was not assigned any significance in the verdict.

Did Elisabeth actually call Muhammad a ‘paedophile’?

As a matter of fact, no.

What she did do was something different, namely refer to his ongoing sexual relationship to the prepubescent Aisha, who was 9 years old when the relationship began, stating:

“If this does not constitute paedophilia, what does?”

She was clearly referring to what Muhammad did, according to Islamic scripture, not to himself as a person. This is in line with common usage of the word ‘paedophilia’, is understandable to just about everyone, and by referring to actual acts of having sex with minors, it is about child molestation, not about Muhammad as a person. It now appears that calling sex with minors ‘paedophilia’ is outside the legal limits in Austria.

Conviction, at any cost?

For those who have followed the case closely, it might appear that the judge has actively sought to convict Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, or that a decision might have been made to get her convicted, no matter the means needed to do so, and at any cost to the system.

The cost just might turn out to be quite significant.

The public prosecutor, since his initial presentation, did not say much during the case, and the charges against ESW were extended at the initiative of the judge.

It is also remarkable that the verdict is based on a possible error in categorizing the sexual preferences of Muhammad as described in the Hadith, rather than on teachings from the Quran, which otherwise is generally considered to constitute the religious teachings of Islam.

Logical consequences

Fortunately law is logical, and thus one can rightfully deduce some consequences from the verdict:

1. It can constitute a criminal offence to use a label wrongly, even if that usage is in line with how it is applied by the general public.
2. The judge takes it as proven that Muhammad had a lasting sexual relationship with a minor. Strangely, she considers it an illegal denigration to apply the label ‘paedophilia’ to this behaviour.
3. As the law is only concerned with “Religious teachings”, rather than “Founders of religion”, “Behaviour of religious persons” or similar things, this verdict must imply that the life and conduct of Muhammad — including his sexual conduct — constitute an integral part of the “Religious teachings” in Islam. This interpretation is in line with Quran 33:21 and fundamentalist readings of Islam.
4. Under Austrian law, Islam has a remarkable degree of protection from criticism, and this verdict extents this protection to Muhammad, who is now protected from criticism. Other religions, say Buddhism, do not enjoy a similar protection of their teachings or founders.

Since the life of Muhammad, as chronicled in detail in Islamic scripture (Sirat, hadith, and to a lesser degree the Quran), is to be considered an integral part of Islamic teachings, it may become legally problematic to criticize persons, norms or actions justified by his example. That would include the lack of women’s rights in Islam, denigration of Jews and ‘infidels’, incitement to violence and murder of critics and opponents, and other troublesome examples from the hadith.

Denigrating the conduct of Muhammad outlawed?

At the time of Muhammad, child marriages were seemingly an accepted tradition on the Arabian Peninsula, these marriages often being parts of political alliances. This is also the case with the marriage to Aisha, whose father Abu Bakr later became the successor to Muhammad, the first caliph.

Her age (6 at the time of marriage, 9 at the time of its consummation) is documented in a long list of hadith stories, in particular from Bukhari, who according to Islamic tradition is considered flawless in his ability to select which stories about the life and conduct were genuine.

Al-Tabari in vol. 7 page 7 of his 39-volume chronicle mentions that of all the women Muhammad had, only sleeping with Aisha would inspire him to Quranic revelations. Under Austrian legal precedent it would now be punishable to express a negative opinion about this.

That the example of Muhammad is used to justify child marriages even today is a fact that seems to have escaped the attention of the judge. Reports about child brides and their aged husbands now routinely appear in the Western press, but even though we hear these stories over and over, few seem willing to stand up for the rights of these minor girls. Even the sheikhs, the persons learned in Islamic law, do not take action or in any way use their authority to stop child marriages.

That the life and example of Muhammad in its entirety should constitute “Religious teachings”, protected from criticism under Austrian law, is a notion so absurd that it cannot be permitted to stand.

Denigration of Khomeini’s book should be permissible

One might then wonder if the book by Ayatollah Khomeini, Tahrir-ol-vasyleh, which also endorses sexual relations with minors, would as well be protected from criticism under Austrian law.

Initially, the answer would be ‘No’, for the Austrian law explicitly recognized the Hanifi school of Sunni Islam, not teachings of Shia Islam, to which Ayatollah Khomeini belonged. But in 1988, the law was changed [pdf] to include the teachings of all Islamic schools, and thus it would appear that denigrating teachings like this would also be punishable under Austrian law. And, as above, Khomeini does seem to know the life story of Muhammad, and is in line with a fundamentalist reading of it as being an unconditional example for Muslims and all mankind to follow.

Filing an appeal is obvious

In sane times, it should be an obviously flawed case for the Austrian state to punish its citizens for speaking out against having sex with minors. However, common sense appears to have been on holiday in this case, which thus far has produced a verdict based on a quite narrow interpretation of a word otherwise commonly used as ESW did, whether that word was correctly applied or not.

Then, regardless whether the word ‘paedophilia’ was applied correctly or not, a citizen in a free society should in any case to express himself as he sees fit, including having the right to make the occasional mistake, without having to fear being dragged to a court in expensive and exhausting lawsuits opened by the State.

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, who declares herself a feminist engaging in the debate about Islam for the sake of her daughter, is for obvious reasons rejecting the verdict and the stain on her criminal record it would imply. The verdict was appealed on the spot, so the case will now be brought before an appeal court. In the hearings before this court, we will probably be going through somewhat embarrassing details from the life of Muhammad in order to establish if these can rightfully be considered religious teachings.

The developments in this case are best followed at english.savefreespeech.org. This is also where it is possible to support Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff economically. This is urgently needed, for in contrast to the prosecution, which is funded by the state, she has to foot all her expenses personally.


Previous posts about the hate speech case against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff:

2009 Dec 5 Fighting a Hate Speech Charge in Austria
    11 Heckling the Counterjihad
    14 Whose Law?
    17 Defaming the Muslims of Pinkafeld
2010 Mar 11 A Mother and an Activist
    20 An Austrian “Hate School”
    22 Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff at the Freedom Defense Initiative
    29 Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and the Wiener Akademikerbund
  Sep 9 “Islam is a Political Ideology Disguised as a Religion”
    16 “Justice Must Not Be Made the Handmaiden of Sharia”
    17 The Truth Does Not Matter
  Oct 11 Interview With Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
    16 Is the Truth Illegal in Austria?
    20 A Court Date for Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
    21 BPE Press Release on Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
    22 Elisabeth’s Voice: An Appeal
    23 Elisabeth’s Voice: A Follow-Up
    24 Raising Our Voices
    25 Elisabeth’s Voice is Growing
    27 Elisabeth’s Voice: More Information
    27 A Bit More Media Attention?
    28 We Are Elisabeth’s Voice
    30 Elisabeth’s Voice in Amsterdam
    31 Mark Steyn Joins Elisabeth’s Voice
  Nov 2 Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff: Target of Western Shariah
    6 Anatomy of a Discussion with a Leftist Journalist
    8 ESW in the WSJ
    10 “The Left is Very Much the New Far Right”
    11 Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff Versus the State of Denial
    17 Elisabeth’s Voice: An Update
    15 The New English Review Interviews Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
    20 Live-Blogging the Trial of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
    20 The ESW Defense File
    23 The Trial of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Day 1
    27 The Time That is Given Us
    28 ESW at Trykkefrihedsselskabet
  Dec 5 An Oasis of Civilization in a Desert of Barbarism
    22 An Unusual Hobby
    23 In Demand Everywhere
2011 Jan 14 ESW: Thoughts Before a Trial
    14 Live-Blogging the Trial of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Part Two
    16 ESW: A Submission to the Court in Vienna
    18 The Trial of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Day 2
    21 Elisabeth’s Voice, Phase Two
    28 Geert Wilders Supports Elisabeth’s Voice
  Feb 5 Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Luton
    10 A Dangerous Mindset
    13 An Appeal to Rectify an Oversight
    14 ESW: Submission III to the Court in Vienna
    15 ESW: The RT Interview
    15 The Trial of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Day 3
    16 Time to Say Thank You

11 comments:

Profitsbeard said...

Why can't one have a "denigrating" opinion of an ideology, "religious" or any other kind, which one finds intolerant, misogynistic, cruel, backward, slavery-promoting, bloodthirtsy and terroristic in its core tenets?

Just because no one in Austria' legal system properly vetted the dogmas of Islam- and failed to study its incarnadine history- before granting it a special protected status as an approved and recognized "religion" should be no reason why a free citizen, with an inquiring intelligence, cannot judge Islam wanting and hold a negative and openly-disapproving view of Mohammadism's malignancies and criticize them justifiably.

This is m.c./p.c. idiocy gone wild.

Read the damned Koran before you sanctify its unknown contents, EU-nuchs.

Blogger said...

Why don't/can't they change redundant laws? Instead of finding a way out of this archaic law, why not work at changing it?

jjk999 said...

I had very similar thoughts as to why the judges reasoning was unfair and ridiculous but the analysis in this page is fare more precise. In fact I titled my amateur raction "Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff Found Guilty. Of Not Being a Lawyer."

The judges distinction was that Ms. Wolff used a term for a dysfunction even though she was refering to an action.

By saying that he did not have a dsyfunction the judge is saying it is only cultural norms that prevent all men from doing the exact same thing. As a man I find that to be a defamation of an entire half of humanity (and I don't mean that as a joke).

It is also unfair because the judge knowingly made a judgment based upon a distinction that only someone with legal or psychiatric qualifications (a hundred thousand dollar education) would have even thought to look for.

By handing down this verdict the judge committed shirk. If making a comment about Muhammad is the same as denigrating the belief in allah and his commands, the judge has put a historical figure on an equal footing alongside Allah. In the legal opinion of this judge Muhammad and Allah are partners.

Muhammad is more akin to Peter, a mortal, then Jesus, a diety.

Thus this question: Making a statment about Jesus could be denigrating to christianisty but is making a critical comment about a specific action of St. Peter did in his private life considered denigrating as well? If not then Ms Wolff should not have been found guilty no matter what she said.

Salome said...

She's not guilty of not being a lawyer, but of not being a psychiatrist.

jjk999 said...

By that judges reasoning, if I mean to say that the pope was a Hitler youth but actually say he was in the SS because a historan never told me there was a significant distinction, I am denigrating the belief of all catholics in the spiritual validity Jesus.

Furor Teutonicus said...

It appears that the TRUTH of a statement is no longer of interest to European courts.

And whatever happened to "mitigating circumstances"?

I would have said the fact that this "character" had sexual relations with a nine year old is written bold and clear in their very own book, is not only "mitigating circumstances", but a reason for a verdict of "no case to answer" to be brought.

In this case, it would be up to the prosecution to prove an adult male having relations with a nine year old was NOT Peadophilia.

4Symbols said...

In hoc signo vinces

Wonder if one would be convicted for calling Richard II a "Paedophile".

Paul said...

As it is now proven that Muhammad had a sexual relationship with a minor, but the term "peadophile" for this behaviour is technically incorrect, may I ask what the technically correct term is? Pervert?

Egghead said...

4Symbols: Historically, political marriages between age-disparate partners who symbolically represented the interests of countries and empires were arranged to secure peace among nations. Marriage treaties often stipulated a specific age of consummation for young marriage partners.

While state-arranged single partner political marriages may have been personally unfortunate for participants, such marriages had vastly different goals and motivations than the self-serving polygamous marriages of Mohammed.

We can indeed speculate as to the evil motivations of Mohammed's forced child marriage because of Mohammed's documented sexual deviancy in other situations. According to Islamic source material, Mohammed participated in forced polygamy, rape, and child molestation of both boys and girls.

Isabelle of France
Marriage to Richard II

"Isabelle of France (1389-1409), oldest daughter of King Charles VI, was not quite seven years old when she married Richard II as his second wife in 1396. He seems to have been very kind to her. In the Middle Ages princely and aristocratic marriages were often contracted on behalf of young children for reasons of diplomacy or for other material advantages. Canon law, however, decreed that such marriages should not be consummated until both parties were of age, at least twelve for a girl and fourteen for a boy."

Valuables returned to France or retained

"The marriage treaty had stipulated that if the marriage was unconsummated Isabelle's dowry and jewels should be returned to France. The instalments of her dowry which had already been received were never repaid. Almost all the jewels and plate from her trousseau were returned in 1401, but not the other splendid gifts she had received from the English and French at the time of her marriage and at New Year from 1396 to 1399."

Isabelle of France

4Symbols said...

In hoc signo vinces

@Egghead,

The point is a subtle one and one that the Judge in this case may have touched on inadvertently it is a contention that is not yet fully formed in my mind. Peter Hitchens may also be hitting the same base with this -

I don’t for a second believe in David Cameron’s claims to be angry about human rights law. I laughed when he said he felt ‘physically sick’ at the prospect of giving votes to prisoners. What absurd, exaggerated language.

His noisy stage rage over the latest decision by the so-called ‘Supreme Court’, concerning the treatment of sex offenders, is just as incredible.

Apart from anything else, the ‘Supreme Court’ (which is actually nothing of the sort) is right about this. English law, stretching back to Magna Carta, believes in limited punishment of bad deeds, not the lifetime totalitarian supervision of criminals. As it is, we get no punishment and a lot of bureaucracy and useless ‘supervision’.

Is Cameron by prosecuting his barbarian rage on free Englishmen implementing de facto sharia law, was the marriage of Richard II de facto islam?

Egghead said...

4Symbols: I read the interesting link that you provided above.

Here is another relevant excerpt:

"He is the Prime Minister. He writes the Queen’s Speech. He commands the whips, who drive our pathetic, obedient MPs this way and that into the voting lobbies."

"If he were ‘physically sick’ about something, then he could act upon it or resign in the attempt. Actually, as we now know for certain from leaked state documents, the Strasbourg Court of Human Wrongs is a cardboard monster, long used as an excuse by Whitehall and Westminster liberals for implementing policies they secretly desire, but daren’t put before the voters. If we defy it, it has no powers to enforce its will."

"This is a phoney war. It is a tactic called ‘triangulation’ perfected for that five-star cynic Bill Clinton by the squalid political fixer Dick Morris – and originally introduced to this country by the Blair machine whose every method has been slavishly copied by Mr Cameron."

"What you do is ‘define yourself’ by attacking things that are unpopular with the voters you wish to woo. It commits you to no course of action, but fools them into continuing to support you. It doesn’t work if people are smart enough to see through it."

As to my opinion about your final two questions:

Yes. Cameron and the left are seeking to completely control the indigenous people of England and the West by introducing Islam and its criminal chaos into the social and political aspects of civilized society.

No. The marriage of Richard II was NOT de facto Islam - just a manifestation of the politics of the past. Isabelle was a young pawn intended to guarantee peace via marriage and shared progeny between two competing countries and/or empires.