Saturday, February 19, 2011

Whose Law Rules in Austria?

Elisabeth's Voice banner 3

“Freedom of expression is always the freedom to allow those opinions which are diametrically opposed to our own, or it is not freedom of expression.”

Last Tuesday’s decision by the Vienna court did not go unremarked by the Austrian press. And not all coverage and opinion was politically correct: the following take by Christian Ortner on the Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff case is incisive and refreshingly candid.

Many thanks to JLH for the translation from Die Presse:

Why Does the Vienna Criminal Court Care About Mohammed’s Sex Life?

by Christian Ortner

With courage and determination, the Egyptians have finally fought for and won the right to express their opinion free of state repression. In Austria, we have not come that far.

For hundreds of years the Islamic world had sighed for this moment. Millions of pious Muslims had to linger in awful uncertainty. Even the cleverest scholars could never agree on a universally agreed solution. But on Monday of this week, it was at that point.

The verdict of the Criminal Court in Vienna has finally settled the hotly disputed question of whether the Prophet Mohammed slept with his wife Aisha when she was at the tender age of nine, as many sources maintain. And so a Viennese judge, until now comparatively unknown among Koran experts, has decided as — so to speak — the highest authority on the faith from Morocco to Indonesia, that in any case there was no instance of pedophilia in the House of Mohammed. And therefore sentenced the defendant to 120 per diem payments for her public claim that the Prophet “liked to get it on with children.” Because the charge that Mohammed committed child abuse was “factually completely unjustified.” Ergo, “denigration of a religion” — end of lesson.

Quite aside from the weird presumption of wishing to clarify in the Viennese court a circa 1500-year-old Arabic bedroom tale — such a verdict (and the law on which is its based) is more suited to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran than an allegedly liberal and secular constitutional state. To be convicted for quoting analogously what is an article of faith in a great part of the Islamic world, seems more like the verdict of a sharia court than a verdict “in the name of the Republic.”

Perhaps in the future, we should concern ourselves not only with the question of whether there will be freedom of expression in Egypt, but also how we here in Austria can achieve this freedom of expression, without having to occupy Stephansplatz for days on end to accomplish it. To be clear: laws that offer heightened protection of only one group of religious communities from too robust criticism are really not compatible with the principle of freedom of expression.

The relevant § 188 of the criminal code protrudes into the 21st century from pre-modern times like the laws of the Habsburgs or the ban on denigrating the parliament. Such a norm of conduct is not in tune with the times. In a secular state, consideration of the possible religious feelings of one’s fellow human beings is a question of respect and honor which requires no regulation by the state.

As chance would have it, at almost the same time as the Viennese verdict, “Valley of the Wolves” was running in the cinemas — a Turkish macho epic with heavily anti-Semitic tendencies. The Jewish community justifiably complained about this vicious film. Nonetheless, the consequence of that cannot be that such a film is forbidden by decree of the grand vizier.

Freedom of expression is always the freedom to allow those opinions which are diametrically opposed to our own, or it is not freedom of expression. If we allow judges to rule on which opinions may be represented and which may not, then we should be less fearful of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood than of our own understanding of freedom.

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
    18 Convicted for Calling Muhammad a “Paedophile”
    18 Sentence First — Verdict Afterwards
    19 ESW: Mark Steyn on the Verdict


Andre said...

Hmmmm, it seems there are a few reasonably intelligent journalists left in Europe. I'm really (even pleasantly) surprised. Maybe, just maybe, finally some are waking up.

EscapeVelocity said...

2000 years of Christian Civilization upon 1000 years of Greeks and Romans, and 5000 more the Jewish....all to answer this question of the Moman's sexual desires in a court of law and how speech concerning that topic is to be quelched.

What on Earth have we come to?

Why are we even talking about this Islamic BS?

Nobody said...

With courage and determination, the Egyptians have finally fought for and won the right to express their opinion free of state repression. In Austria, we have not come that far.

Uh, the Egyptians have won nothing of that sort. It'll be worth believing when Copts can openly complain about Muslim persecution, abductions & forced conversions and the like. Until then, comparing Egypt w/ Austria - even w/ this kangaroo court - is ridiculous.

Does Ortner think that if anyone in Egypt derisively called Mohammed a pedophile, he'd simply walk? If he didn't undergo a street lynching that would make Lara Logan's experience seem like Sharon Stone's, he'd probably be sentenced to death for blasphemy in a Cairo court, no matter who rules.

Always On Watch said...

Excellent! But I, too, am not sure about that first part.

Anonymous said...

Quote: "With courage and determination, the Egyptians have finally fought for and won the right to express their opinion free of state repression."

Google's own Middle East 'Executive' (aka agitator/community organizer), Wael Ghonim may disagree with that.
Qaradawi addresses huge crowd in Cairo, bans Leftist uprising leader Ghonim from stage

In the middle east, Muslim clerics can and have quashed discourse as effectively as any secular despot.

goethechosemercy said...

Is Austria an Oriental or an Occidental state?
Because all Muslim-influenced despotism is Oriental Despotism.
Islam is not a game of addition.
It is a game of replacement-- replacing the West with an Oriental Despotism.
Islam co-exists with nothing.
It is a vacuum which debases humanity and destroys creation.

john in cheshire said...

Austria, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. The line is drawn between the West and islam. It is your duty to take the side of us people, here in the West, who reject and are fearful of islam, particularly with your history of doing so to great effect. If your leaders cannot see the logic and truth in that, then they are not fit to lead your country and should be removed. No Christian country should ever side with muslims against fellow Christians. That way only leads to our collective ruin. islam is evil and must be expelled from Europe; to fail to do that will inevitably lead to great suffering on behalf of the indigenous people who inhabit the countries of Europe.

Hesperado said...

"With courage and determination, the Egyptians have finally fought for and won the right to express their opinion free of state repression."

What kind of preposterous tripe is this? I'm aggrieved, but wearily unsurprised, to see such utterly preposterous, outrageously egregious nonsense.

This past Friday, hundreds of thousands of Egyptian Muslims joyously greeted the return of an Islamic cleric (Qaradawi) to address them and to lead them in Islamic Friday prayers -- a cleric who

1) has argued that all non-Muslims simply by being non-Muslims are fit targets for lethal violence

2) has claimed he wants to kill a Jew before he lives

3) has said that Hitler with the Holocaust was doing Allah's work and that, moreover, that work has yet to be finished, by Muslims.

(For sources for 2 and 3, see here.)

And all three of these things are not "extremist" Islam: they are baseline, normative, mainstream, grassroots Islam -- the same Islam all Muslims support by being Muslims (whether they schizophrenically don't fully realize that, or whether they deceptively pretend they don't).

This is the third time GOV has posted a leading article touting the Egyptian (or other recently revolting -- pun intended) Muslim people in glowing terms, without a shred of attending corrective commentary. It's Deja Flu all over again...

Baron Bodissey said...

Hesperado --

This is the third time GOV has posted a leading article... without a shred of attending corrective commentary.

Corrective commentary is not my job. It's your job.

Fortunately for our readers, I know that we can rely on you to provide commentary in full measure, pressed down and overflowing.

Have you ever heard of the wise advice to "reward approximate behavior"?

To have an Austrian MSM writer get so much of this piece exactly correct is a wonderful change which we should all celebrate. Yes, he got the part about Egypt wrong, but what else can you expect from the MSM?

The rest of it is an amazing change. It's a dog walking on his hind legs, and doing it remarkably well, under the circumstances.

I prefer not to focus on what he did wrong. I consider that the "narcissism of small differences". It's more important to focus on what he did right.

As Reagan said, the man who agrees with me 80% is my ally, not a 20% enemy.

You are not incorrect in what you say. But if you were in charge of devising strategy for our movement, your tactics would be divisive and counterproductive. I would never employ them; they would tend to create acrimonious schisms over non-crucial issues.

For the moment, it doesn't matter what Austrians think about the situation in Egypt. I'm sure it will later, but there will be time enough then to work on it.

For right now, the important thing is to raise awareness of the horrible injustice that was done to Elisabeth. This article does her enormous service, and that's why it was sent for translation and posted here.

Are there any other "Big Picture" people on this thread? Or am I the only one who sees things this way?

Abu Yousuf said...

If Islam exists with nothing, we will not see old Jewish and Christian communities still living among Muslims all over the Muslim World from Morocco to Egypt and Syria all the way to Indonesia. Muslims during their rein respected and treated the ‘People of the Book’, Christians and Jews, as God (Allaah) Almighty has commanded in His last revelation Al-Quraan. However, when the Crusadists took over Muslim Spain (Al-Andalus), they held inquisition Courts and massacred and persecuted Muslims as well as Jews. Both Muslims and Jews fled to North Africa and many Jews also fled to Ottoman Turkey. Jews have akways been perswecuted by Christians in Europe while they found safety among Muslims.

Speak the truth and stop the hateful lies, disinformation and deception about Islam..

Bahjat Sharif, California

Nick said...

Lost a comment there somewhere; I'll try again: I was under the impression that the facts of the matter were not disputed. Mohammad married Aisha when she was six, and had sexual intercourse with her when she was nine. What became a bone of contention was whether Elisabeth had used the correct technical term to describe such behaviour.

What's more, it is my understanding that Elisabeth was convicted for something she said during a private conversation with a family member.

Not for something she said during a talk on Islam, or anything else.

Nick said...

And in my opinion the Baron is right on the mark here. If mainstream journalists start fighting for freedom of speech, then everything else follows. We'll be able to say what we want to say, and people will be able to listen. That's the first step. Changing their minds comes later (hopefully).

So if a mainstream journalist is standing up for Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, then that's a good thing, & it ought to be recognised.

Besides, if one considers the potential audience, the writer draws a nice parallel which will reach that audience in terms they can understand.

Softly softly, catchy monkey.

Jewish Odysseus said...

Baron, I'd go so far as to give this journalist the benefit of the doubt that he knows perfectly well that true free speech does NOT exist in Egypt, but he is going with the tide of [misinformed] public opinion to make a stronger tactical point--rather than "Austria has free speech equal to Egypt," he can claim "Austria has free speech LESSER than Egypt."

After, this piece is analyzing Austria, not Egypt, which is merely a useful prop for his argument. And his target audience is precisely those lesser-informed folks who are all dreamily romantic about Egypt. So use their mythology against them!

an EDL buck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Baron Bodissey said...

an EDL buck --

Gates of Vienna's rules about comments require that they be civil, temperate, on-topic, and show decorum. Your comment violated the last of these rules. We keep a PG-13 blog, and exclude foul language, explicit descriptions, and epithets. This is why I deleted your comment.


an EDL buck said...

Bahjat, two questions mate, 1 What [obscene intensifier] drugs are you on? And 2 As an outsider, what do you think of the human race? [insults redacted]

Professor L said...

Mr Sharef, perhaps you would care to explain to me why Jewish communities that used to exist in the Islamic world have been forced to flee to Isreal, even before the present situation arose regarding Isreali control of Judea and Samaria.

Perhaps you might also answer why the Copts in Egypt can't even build a church without riots, why Pakistani Christians are sentenced to death on nought more than hearsay (Asia Bibi's case), why the Greek Orthodox had to endure that horrific institution of devshirmeh and have been expelled from the regions they built and made great (Constantinople in particular).

Why are Christians not even allowed to use the Arabic word for "god" in Malaysia wihtout massive court wrangling, and the Indonesian Christians attacked without justification and it requires presidential declarations to get the police to act?

Perhaps, sir, you might answer these questions. You asked for the truth, and here it is. I wonder if you can handle it.

Hesperado said...

LAW Wells,

Your good questions would more pertinently be directed at Christian Ortner, whose article Baron characterizes as "incisive and refreshingly candid" (apparently Baron's "job" is not to correct, but to positively embellish with flowers, PC MC).

Anonymous said...

"With courage and determination, the Egyptians have finally fought for and won the right to express their opinion free of state repression. In Austria, we have not come that far."

OK. Just for fun, let's examine and re-write the first paragraph:

With courage and determination, the Egyptians have finally fought for and won the right to express their opinion free of state repression - and Sharia-compliant majority opinion is that Muslim men are fully justified to yell "Jew. Jew. Jew." while gang raping (or sexually abusing - whichever works) a Western woman reporter - without fear of criminal prosecution because 1,400+ years ago Allah told Mohammed to order Muslims to excel at the genocidal slaughter of non-Muslims with professionalism.

In Austria, we have not come that far - but our Sharia-compliant Western judge has established legal precedent that Mohammed, history's first and most famous promiscuous polygamous sexually deviant Islamic rapist, murderer, and warlord - along with any current Muslim men who imitate Mohammed's behavior after 1,400+ years - must NOT be referred to as pedophiles when Muslim men have sexual relations with both women AND children - or even girls who grow into women after a decade or more of child molestation (which Muslims often call "marriage") - AND any non-Muslim insinuation of either the concept or incidence of Muslim pedophile behavior (not to be limited to the actual use of the word pedophile) WILL carry the fear of full state repression including (but not limited to) criminal prosecution.

Are you happier now, Hesperado? :)