Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mission Accomplished

I posted last night about the recently announced prosecution of Jussi Halla-aho for incitement and blasphemy based on statements on his blog about Mohammed and the Koran.

KGS, who did the initial English-language work on this breaking news story, adds a clarification about why he used the word “blasphemy” in his translation:

The Finnish word more closely approximates “the breach of sanctity of religion”, but the breach of sanctity of religion is in fact much the same as blasphemy, because no one is charged for interrupting a church service, etc.

From a practical point of view, the charge is equivalent to “blasphemy”.

A Finnish commenter named Puolimieli had this to say about the case in the comments on my post:

Halla-aho is one of the very few politicians in Finland to speak against Islamization and multiculturalism and for reduced immigration. When he was elected to the Helsinki City Council last autumn, the media and several leftist and Green politicians started the worst mudslinging campaign I’ve ever seen in Finnish politics, painting Halla-aho essentially as a Nazi. In reality, Halla-aho is a moderate even if combative character with rather liberal views on most issues.

The prosecution is the culmination of this political persecution, brought about by some activist lawyers who essentially want to ban all overt criticism of Islam and immigration in Finland.

The blog post of which Halla-aho stands accused is a sarcastic take on the double standards that make it illegal to criticize certain groups and a certain religion, while similar criticisms of other groups and religions are allowed. The post is more about these double standards and the state of free speech in Finland, and less about the sexual proclivities of Muhammad or crime in the Somali community. The prosecutor, however, seems to have willfully missed the context in which Halla-aho discusses Muhammad and the Somalis, preferring to zero in on a couple of inflammatory sentences.

Finland does not in fact have laws against blasphemy as such anymore. Previously, there was a section in the Penal Code that made it illegal to blaspheme Christianity, but that section was replaced with something called breach of the sanctity of religion. In principle, it’s possible to be prosecuted for breaching the sanctity of any religion. In practice, however, one can blaspheme Christianity to one’s heart’s content and not be prosecuted. In light of recent legal cases, it seems that Islam is the only religion whose sanctity one can violate in Finland. It was this double standard that Halla-aho targeted.
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The political nature of Halla-aho’s prosecution is highlighted by the fact that the decision to take him to court was publicized a day before the True Finns Party was to decide whether or not to choose Halla-aho as one of their candidates in the coming EU Parliament elections. The leadership of the True Finns Party has been under heavy pressure from other political parties and the media to cast out Halla-aho, and that’s exactly what they did today. This is a victory for the elites, who knew that Halla-aho was popular among the people, and could have amassed a sizable share of the votes in the election.

All in all, the prosecution of Halla-aho is one of the most disgraceful chapters of the recent Finnish legal history.

KGS adds this:

The Perus Suomalainen (True Finns) spokesman, Timo Soini, was just on the 19:30 news here, being interviewed after their party’s meeting ended, which decided who would be on the list for PS candidates eligible to run for the EU parliament. Halla-aho was not among those chosen.

And this just came in from YLE:

Chairman of the nationalistic True Finns party Timo Soini, said it was unfortunate that a member of the party should face such charges.

On Saturday, a party meeting decided not to select Halla-aho as an official candidate for next June’s elections to the European Parliament.

So the politically correct elites of Finland can now congratulate themselves: mission accomplished!


puolimieli said...

For anyone interested, here's a translation of the relevant section of the Finnish Penal Code:

Section 10 - Breach of the sanctity of religion (563/1998)
A person who
(1) publicly blasphemes against God or, for the purpose of offending, publicly defames or desecrates what is otherwise held to be sacred by a church or religious community, as referred to in the Act on the Freedom of Religion (267/1998), or
(2) by making noise, acting threateningly or otherwise, disturbs worship, ecclesiastical proceedings, other similar religious proceedings or a funeral, shall be sentenced for a breach of the sanctity of religion to a fine or to imprisonment for at most six months.

While in principle this gives the authorities great power to prosecute blasphemers, in practise the law is rarely applied. Defamation of Jesus and Christianity in general by atheist activists, artists and the like is common, and they are never prosecuted. This, I think, is just like it should be. The problem is that with Islam the rules are entirely different, and if you are highly critical of Islam in public, there's a considerable chance of prosecution and conviction.

Anonymous said...

The principles at issue here are quite clear.

I am curious however about one point.

In the post quoted above, a distinction is drawn between blasphemy and "breach of the sanctity of religion".

Yet in the translation posted here it is said:

"A person who
(1) publicly blasphemes against God ...

Would you please elucidate what the original wording was and how you arrived at the use of the word "blasphemes" here.

Mind you, this is not an argument. I really just want to know.

Vasarahammer said...

In the post quoted above, a distinction is drawn between blasphemy and "breach of the sanctity of religion"."

I am not the original poster, but I will try to make the point clear.

The paragraph in Finnish law that was used is called: "Uskonrauhan rikkominen.", which is, IMO, best translated by "disturbin religious worship".

You don't have to barge into a sermon or friday prayers. You only have to post "blasphemous" opinions or insulting cartoons.

Based on the latter, Seppo Lehto was convicted of "disturbing religious worship". The image Seppo Lehto used can be found in Muhammad image archive at zombietime.

puolimieli said...

I think before 1998 the relevant section of the Penal Code was named Blasphemy, while from 1998 on it has been called Breach of the sanctity of religion. When I wrote my first post, I had the misimpression that the new law does not mention blasphemy at all, when it in fact does. The translation above is not my own but from the Ministry of Justice (link).

The difference between the old and new laws is that in the former the protected subject was thought to be God himself, whereas the objective of the latter is to protect religious communities. Another difference is that the old law was meant to prevent people from blaspheming Christianity, whereas the latter concerns all religious communities.

Czechmade said...

Christians are no more holy. Surprizingly the leftists filled the void with alien xenophobes as a holy substitute.

We should study the leftists as gone mad theologists.

The prophet is holy to them not because of a religion, he is holy as a foreign. Only an alien can transport the leftist to his Utopia. We all failed in helping him - we are the traitors to his leftist religion!

Now the total stranger must serve him as buraq did mohammd.
They abuse mo, thinking he is buraq! Outrageous! Blasphemy!