The case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff: Free speech or sharia laws?
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has finally handed down its decision on the appeal by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff against her conviction in Austria for “hate speech”.
Published: October 29, 2018, 10:16 am
The court ruled against her, saying that the Austrian law under which she was tried was within acceptable limits, and did not violate her human rights, because it served the higher good of protecting religious feelings and keeping the religious peace.
Thus an opinion of Islamic scripture can no longer safely be discussed in Europe. Other Islamic doctrinal tenets still valid today not only include violent jihad, the duty to kill apostates, and the abysmal treatment of women, but sadly child marriage.
The ECHR’s decision has given far more prominence to Elisabeth’s case as at least 68 English-language media reported on the decision. The outlets include The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Al Arabiya, The Atlantic, Fox News, National Review, Newsweek, The Telegraph, and many more.
Ultimately, the case is not only about the person Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, but about everyone who falls under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights — which means not only those in Western Europe, but Hungary, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, the Baltics, Romania, and Bulgaria.
It means that saying anything that “disturbs the religious peace” — or offends Muslims — is no longer protected by human rights laws. Europeans are therefore free to say only what the unelected judges of the European courts want to hear.
The Muslim world has taken note of the ECHR’s decision, notably with the Al Arabiya report. The long list for other news sites in the Middle East and South Asia, also include Pakistan.
The exact words spoken by Elisabeth concerning Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha, for which she was prosecuted and convicted, were: “What do you call it if not ‘pedophilia’?”
It was a question she had raised in a private conversation, and then recounted during a seminar in 2009, one of two entitled “Basic Information on Islam”. The entire case against her was built around this remark.
She also stated that the prophet of Islam “had a thing for little girls”. Since the verdict, it is no longer legal to mention such things in Austria, the ECHR confirmed.
Sabaditsch-Wolff had appealed the initial ruling and fine, relying on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. That provision is to safeguard “freedom of expression”.
The Higher Court of Vienna, in December 2011 noted: “Muhammad’s wife Aisha entered the marriage at age 6, which was consummated at the age of 9,” implying much the same but not stating an opinion.
The high-court judge in Vienna actually allowed the quoting of the authoritative Islamic hadith in the courtroom. The court then acknowledged that the passage was already public knowledge, and thus repeating it could not be punishable under the law.
But the court upheld Elisabeth’s conviction, based on a somewhat peculiar interpretation of Austrian law: to say “Mohammed had a thing for little girls” was an “excess of opinion” that cannot be tolerated. It constitutes ridicule, which was not justifiable.
Sabaditsch-Wolff has extensive knowlegde of Islam. She is the daughter of an Austrian diplomat, and was partly educated in Iran. She was the assistant to the Austrian Vice Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, and served at the Austrian embassies in both Kuwait and Libya.
In 2010 Sabaditsch-Wolff was a speaker at a conference sponsored by the Freedom Defense Initiative at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, entitled: “Jihad: The Political Third Rail — What They Are Not Telling You.”
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