European Court of Human Rights rejects appeal over comments made during lecture
The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the conviction of an Austrian lecturer who suggested that the founder of Islam, Prophet Mohammed was “a pedophile” for marrying a 6-year-old child.
The 47-year-old woman from Vienna, known only as Mrs. E.S. was previously convicted by an Austrian judge for hate crimes and fined €480 ($548) for her lecture in which she discussed Islamic scripture that described the 56-year-old prophet marrying a young girl and consummating the marriage when she was 9-years-old.
Her latest appeal has now been rejected after the ECHR has upheld the ruling.
On Thursday, the Strasbourg-based seven-judge panel declared that her comparing Prophet Mohammed to a pedophile goes “beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate,” and that the Austrian court was right in “classifying them as an abusive attack which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace.”
The court ruled that the conviction in Austria did not infringe on her freedom of speech rights when Mrs. S was convicted for telling her class that Mohammad “liked to do it with children.”
She also reportedly said … “A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”
According to the Daily Mail, Mrs. S. was later convicted in February 2011 by the Vienna Regional Criminal Court for disparaging religious doctrines and ordered her to pay a fine of 480 euros plus legal fees.
After having her case thrown out by both the Vienna Court of Appeal and Austria’s Supreme Court, the European Court of Human rights backed the courts’ decision to convict Mrs. S. on Thursday.
The ECHR found there had been no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In a statement on Thursday the ECHR said: “The Court found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant’s statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.
“It held that by considering the impugned statements as going beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate, and by classifying them as an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace, the domestic courts put forward relevant and sufficient reasons.”
Mrs. S. had complained to the European court that the domestic courts failed to address the substance of the impugned statements in the light of her right to freedom of expression.
She also claimed that “her criticism of Islam occurred in the framework of an objective and lively discussion which contributed to a public debate,” and had not been aimed at “defaming the Prophet.”
According to RT, Child marriages have resurfaced as a hot topic on the agenda of some European nations at the height of the migrant and refugee crisis that saw millions of people from the Middle East and North Africa pouring into the EU.
A 2013 Global Monitoring report on the sexual exploration of children argued that Austria was failing to protect children from forced child marriages, with the practice becoming more frequent due to migration.
Politicians in neighboring Germany even proposed to fine imams marrying people under 16-years old.
It was reported at the time that hundreds of minors under 14, mostly girls, were already married when they arrived in Germany.