Europe’s War On Free Speech

Many years ago I met Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff at a dinner in Stoughton, Massachusetts (story here). She told her story of being charged with hate speech for teaching a course about Mohammad that included identifying him as a pedophile (story here).

Today, Reason posted an article about a decision by the European Court of Human Rights that most knowledgeable observers recognize as the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff. The title of the article is, “European Court: OK to Criminalize Calling Mohammed a Pedophile.”

The article reports:

The case, decided yesterday by the European Court of Human Rights, is E.S. v. Austria — I assume from the facts and from the initials that this is the Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff case. Here’s the court’s own summary:

Criminal conviction and fine for statements accusing the Prophet Muhammad of paedophilia: no violation

Facts – The applicant held seminars with the title “Basic information on Islam” at the right-wing Freedom Party Education Institute. At one such seminar, referring to a marriage which Muhammad had concluded with Aisha, a six-year old, and consummated when she had been nine, she stated inter alia “[Muhammad] liked to do it with children”, “the thing with Aisha and child sex” and “a 56-year-old and a six-year-old? What do you call that? Give me an example? What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?”

In 2011, as a result of these statements, the applicant was convicted of disparagement of religious precepts pursuant to Article 188 of the Criminal Code. She was sentenced to pay a fine of EUR 480, or serve 60 days of imprisonment in the event of default.

The domestic courts made a distinction between child marriages and paedophilia. In their opinion, by accusing Muhammad of paedophilia, the applicant had merely sought to defame him, without providing evidence that his primary sexual interest in Aisha had been her not yet having reached puberty or that his other wives or concubines had been similarly young. In particular, the applicant had disregarded the fact that the marriage with Aisha had continued until the Prophet’s death, when she had already turned eighteen and had therefore passed the age of puberty.

The thing to remember here is that there is no regard for truth here.  What Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff said about Mohammad is true, but according to Sharia Law, any speech that a Muslim does not like can be considered slander. In a country under Sharia Law, you can be executed for slander. Is Europe moving toward a Sharia Law definition of slander by calling it hate speech? In America we have the First Amendment (at least for now). We need to protect our First Amendment rights because they are somewhat unique–even in the western world. In Britain and Canada pastors have been charged with hate speech for quoting the Bible on such issues as homosexuality. Their pastors are not free to share the Bible in its entirety. In America we need to make sure we elect leaders who will abide by the Constitution and protect free speech.

I strongly suggest you follow the link above to read the entire article at Reason. The thought that you can go to prison for telling the truth is chilling.


A Very Interesting Alliance

Front Page Magazine reported yesterday that CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) coordinated its response to the terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The stated purpose (although in reality this is not necessarily the case) of the ACLU is to protect the civil liberties of Americans. I would assume that those civil liberties include free speech.

The article quotes a New York Times article:

Then she took calls from those she views as allies — other Muslim advocates, a Methodist minister, an organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union — to come up with a response that would walk a fine line: clearly condemning the extremists behind the attack, while also calling to account what they see as hatred decked out in free speech finery.

I know this may come as a shock to some people, but there is no law against hatred. There is also no reason to see a draw Mohammed contest as hatred–it is simply an exercise of free speech. The exercise of free speech is part of American law. If Muslims want to speak freely, they need to extend that right to those around them. If they don’t support free speech, I suggest they live somewhere other than America.

The article at Front Page Magazine observes:

You don’t normally denounce someone after they were nearly killed in an attack by your people, but that’s exactly what was going on here. As with Rushdie and Charlie Hebdo, elements of Muslim organizations that weren’t openly shouting “Death to America” instead doubled around to destroy sympathy for the targets of the terrorists.

And Salem is now pushing the ‘incitement’ line whose goal is to criminalize criticism of Islam. The ACLU’s organizer is apparently okay with that.

The New York Times swiftly spins this into Muslims being persecuted by being denied the power to impose Sharia law. Denying the power to oppress women is not usually considered oppression by the left… but there’s a special exception in there for Muslims.

I sense a double standard.

Teaching Islam Under The Guise Of Common Core

Yesterday Todd Starnes at Fox News posted an article about a Common Core vocabulary assignment given in English class in Farmville, North Carolina.

The article details the assignment:

“In the following exercises, you will have the opportunity to expand your vocabulary by reading about Muhammad and the Islamic word,” the worksheet read.

The lesson used words like astute, conducive, erratic, mosque, pastoral, and zenith in sentences about the Islamic faith.

“The zenith of any Muslim’s life is a trip to Mecca,” one sentence read. For “erratic,” the lesson included this statement: “The responses to Muhammad’s teachings were at first erratic. Some people responded favorably, while other resisted his claim that ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad his Prophet.”

Another section required students to complete a sentence:

“There are such vast numbers of people who are anxious to spread the Muslim faith that it would be impossible to give a(n)___ amount.”

The writer of the article at Fox asked the school district to provide me with a copy of vocabulary worksheets that promoted the Jewish, Hindu and Christian faiths. The school district did not reply.

The article concludes:

The student I spoke with told me they have not had any other assignments dealing with religion – other than the one about Islam.

Why is that not surprising?

Based on its official statement, Pitt County Schools seems confident that the vocabulary lessons are in compliance with three Common Core standards related to literary. If you want to look up those standards, reference CCSSELA-Literary L11-12.4.A, 12.4.D and 12.6.

Since the Common Core folks seem to be infatuated with sentence completion – let me try one out on them.

Use “Islamic” and “proselytizing” in the following sentence: Somebody got their ____ hand caught in the ____ cookie jar.

Where are the protests from the ‘Freedom From Religion’ people?

Media Bias Is Reflected In What You Hear Reported As Well As What You Don’t Hear Reported

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about a Muslim man who has killed four people in America as an act of retribution for U.S. military action against Muslims in the Middle East. The story was reported in some New York and New Jersey newspapers in August.

On August 21, reported:

According to court documents filed Wednesday in Washington state, where he is accused of killing three other men, Ali Muhammad Brown said he considered it his mission to murder 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin as an act of “vengeance” for innocent lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran.

“All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life,” he told detectives, according to the documents.

…Prosecutors say Brown is a devout Muslim who had become angered by U.S. military intervention in the Islamic world, which he referred to as “evil.” He also referred to drug use as inherently evil.

“During the interview Brown also stated that, as part of his beliefs, if a ‘man sees evil then he must take action against that evil’,” according to court papers.

Essex County authorities have characterized Tevlin’s June 25 murder as a robbery that turned violent when Brown fired 10 shots into the popular college student’s vehicle, which was stopped at a red light at the corner of Walker Road and Northfield Avenue in West Orange.

Why would the authorities characterize Brendan Tevlin’s murder as a robbery when Muhammad Brown told the authorities that he killed Brendan Tevlin and the other men because of his Muslim religion?

The article at Power Line reports:

Brown has a long criminal history that includes a prosecution for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in 2004. Authorities believed that Brown and 13 other men were using the bank fraud scheme to finance terrorist groups overseas, but were never able to prove where the money went, so Brown pled guilty to a single count and was released in 2005. So it is reasonable to infer that he has been a jihadist for a long time.

John Hinderaker at Power Line concludes:

Still, if you didn’t know better, you might think that national news outlets are leery of linking the words “serial killer” and “devout Muslim.” If Brown had told authorities he was a Tea Party member, I am sure we would have heard a lot more about him.

America has always had people who commit crimes and murder people for various reasons. What we have not been dealing with until the past fifteen years is people who live here and feel an obligation to murder Americans in the name of Islam.

Islam As A Political Rather Than A Religious Movement

Yesterday’s New York Post posted an article explaining one of the reasons for the unrest Islamists are causing around the world. The title of the article is, “The Mad Dream of a Dead Empire That Unites Islamic Rebels.” Please follow the link above to read the entire article–it is well worth your time.

The article reminds us of the basic history of Islam:

They call themselves the Army of God (Jund Allah) and claim to be fighting to unite mankind under the banner of Islam as “the only true faith.” To achieve that goal, they believe they should revive the Islamic Caliphate, the theocratic empire developed after the death of Prophet Mohammed in 632 AD.

…In recent months, a branch of the movement, known as Da’esh or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been capturing territory in Syria. Last week, it used its Syrian base as a springboard for conquest in Iraq, ending up in control of the western parts of Mosul, the country’s third-largest city, as well as parts of Saddam Hussein’s native town of Tikrit.

The article goes on to explain that the most effective way to deal with the Islamists is to help countries form governments where Islam is a religion rather than a political system.

The article concludes:

More immediately, the US should do all it could to stop Da’esh and its Saddamite allies from destabilizing Iraq. That could mean drone attacks against Da’esh positions, logistical facilities for bringing elite Iraqi units to the battleground and energetic political action to persuade Iraqi parties to form a government of national unity.

It is time for President Obama to leave the golf course and get involved.

Bias? What Bias?

On July 29, the Washington Times posted a story about a controversy involving a history textbook being used in an advanced placement course in Florida. The textbook devotes a 36-page chapter to Islam, but has no chapters on either Christianity or Judaism.

The article illustrates some of the bias:

Here’s an example: Muhammad and his armies’ take-over of Medina states depicted “people happily accept[ing of] Islam as their way of life. It leaves out that tens of thousands of Jews and non-believers were massacred by [Muhammad’s] armies. It’s a blatant deception.”

At the same time, the book depicts Jesus as claiming to be the Messiah — but writes as fact that Muhammad was the prophet, Mr. Workman said in the Townhall article. Students in the class are also taught about the Koran and pillars of Islam.

The article quotes a school board member:

“Some of the descriptions of the battles use the word ‘massacre’ when it’s a Christian battle and ‘takeover’ when it’s a Muslim battle,” said Amy Kneessy to Fox News. “In young minds, massacre paints a very different visual picture than a takeover or occupation — when in fact both battles were very bloody.”

At some point Americans will realize that Islam supports Sharia Law. Sharia Law and democracy are mutually exclusive. There is an effort by some in the Muslim community to undermine the American way of life and impose Sharia Law on America. Hopefully, the school boards in this town and other towns will continue to be vigilant in examining the textbooks the children are using.
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Why We Shouldn’t Get Involved In Syria

On Tuesday, the Washington Post posted an article about the Syrian rebels. It seems that the rebels, which we are considering sending aid to, executed a fourteen-year-old boy because he insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

The article reports:

When a 14-year-old boy from the Syrian city of Aleppo named Mohammad Qatta was asked to bring one of his customers some coffee, he reportedly refused, saying, “Even if [Prophet] Mohammed comes back to life, I won’t.”

According to a story reported by two grassroots Syrian opposition groups, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Aleppo Media Center, Qatta’s words got him killed. A group of Islamist rebels, driving by in a black car, reportedly heard the exchange. They stopped the car, grabbed the boy and took him away.

The boy was later brought back to the place where he was grabbed, and shot to death in front of his family.

The article concludes:

The influx of avowed jihadists and extremists is bad news for Syrians, and not just because those under rebel rule have to worry about sharing Qatta’s fate if they are perceived as insufficiently pious. The growth of these groups seems bound to exacerbate tensions between rebel factions, easing Assad’s military path to victory, and scaring off the Western powers that might otherwise be persuaded to lend the rebels greater support. Lots of people in and outside of Syria could get behind the idea of ousting a cruel and unpopular dictator and replacing him with something more democratic. But few things are more universally loathed than an al-Qaeda-allied group that executes children.

Unfortunately, there is no one we should support in the Syrian civil war. It is unfortunate that civilians are the victims in this struggle, but this is a struggle that will not have a happy ending–neither side supports any sort of freedom for the people of Syria. To further complicate things, Russia and Iran are working very hard to keep the current regime in place. Our involvement in the Syrian civil war would essentially put us in a proxy war with Russia and Iran. We have been in a proxy war with Iran for years, but I really don’t think it would be wise to add Russia to the mix.

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An Update On A Very Old Story

One of the things we need to remember when viewing events in the Middle East is that regardless of what is going on with any nation’s military at any given time, there is always a propaganda war.

In 2000, the world was shown pictures of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura, who was supposedly killed by Israeli troops. Well, that’s not the end of the story–even for Muhammad al-Dura. Yesterday, Scott Johnson at Power Line posted a very interesting update. Muhammad al-Dura was not only not killed by Israeli forces–he was not killed!

The article at Power Line links to a story in the Times of Israel also posted on Sunday.

The article in the Times of Israel states:

Muhammad al-Dura, the Palestinian child who appeared to have been gruesomely killed at his father’s feet in Gaza on September 30, 2000 — as filmed in iconic footage that helped fuel the Second Intifada — was not harmed by Israeli forces and did not die in the exchange of fire, according to an Israeli government report released Sunday, three days before a French court rules on a related matter.

“Contrary to the report’s claim that the boy was killed, the committee’s review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive,” the Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy report stated regarding the television report.

The Israel Times further reports:

The 55 seconds of edited footage, filmed two days after Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, contributed to the October 2000 protest in which 13 Arab citizens of Israel were killed and quickly became the defining image of the second Palestinian intifada uprising and terror war against Israel.

…Sunday’s report embraces what is known as the maximalist approach, asserting that not only was al-Dura not killed by IDF bullets but that, at the end of the raw footage, he was categorically alive. “Contrary to (France 2 reporter Charles) Enderlin’s claim, the raw footage shows clearly that in the final scenes, the boy is not dead. In the final seconds of the footage, the boy raises his arm and turns his head in the direction of (cameraman Talal) Abu-Rahma in what are clearly intentional and controlled movements. This should have been readily-apparent to Enderlin. Yet rather than reconsidering the claim before producing the report, or providing viewers with the full picture so that they could fairly judge the credibility of his declaration that ‘Muhammad is dead’, Enderlin edited out these last scenes from the report, thereby creating the false impression that the footage substantiated his claims.”

Israel soldiers are traditionally very careful to avoid civilian casualties–they understand the bias in the worldwide media against Israel, and they choose not to provide any ammunition for that media. It has taken thirteen years for the truth to come out about the non-murder of this child, and it will be interesting to see any of the major media bothers to report it. Meanwhile enemies of Israel lob rockets at the civilian population daily, and the media somehow does not report that.



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A Contrast In Values

Hamas has repeatedly told Israel, “We love death more than you love life.” That is the culture of Palestine–Hamas rules Palestine. This week there was a vivid illustration of that statement.

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line reported that Mariam Farhat died in Gaza City after a long illness. She had been previously elected to the legislature in Gaza. She was the mother of six sons, but three died while committing suicide missions in Israel.

The article reports the touching story of her son Mohammed:

In a video that mother and son made together just before the attack, Farhat said: “I wish I had 100 boys like Mohammad. I’d sacrifice them for the sake of God.”

“When I see all the Jews in Palestine killed, that will be enough for me,” his mother said on camera. “I wish he will kill as many as he can, so they will be scared.” …

The video showed Mohammed holding hands with his mother, who prayed for him to become a “martyr,” the term Palestinians use for militants killed in attacks on Israelis. Armed with grenades and automatic rifles, he broke into a study hall, killing five seminary students before he was shot dead by a soldier.

Hamas supervised Mrs. Farhat’s funeral.

After reading Mrs. Farhat’s statement and seeing that she was honored for the sacrifice of her sons, I have no reason to believe there will ever be peace in the Middle East unless this kind of thinking changes.

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What Happens When Our Government Does Not Understand The Culture It Is Dealing With

Front Page Magazine posted an article today showing the cultural differences in the way America and Egypt view our foreign aid to that country.

The article reports:

As earlier suggested, the wonderful thing about Salafis—those extra “radical” Muslims who seek to emulate as literally as possible prophet Muhammad’s teachings and habits—is that they are so unabashed and frank about what they believe.   Such is the degree of brainwashing that they have undergone.  Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded much earlier, doublespeak is not second nature to the Salafis.

The most recent example comes from Al Hafiz TV, an Egyptian Islamic station.  During a roundtable discussion on the U.S. and foreign aid to Egypt, an Islamic cleric, clearly of the Salafi bent—he had their trademark mustache-less-beard—insisted that the U.S. must be treated contemptuously, like a downtrodden dhimmi, or conquered infidel; that Egypt must make the U.S. conform to its own demands; and that, then, all the money the U.S. offers to Egypt in foreign aid can be taken as rightfully earned jizya.

For those of you who may be new to this site, I need to explain what these terms mean. Under Sharia law, which is the legal system the Salafis want to bring to Egypt, non-Muslims are to be given three choices–convert to Islam and conform to Sharia, submit as second-class citizens (dhimmis), or be killed. The jizya is the money paid to the Muslims by the dhimmis every year in a ceremony which is designed to demean them as people and to remind them that the government is generously allowing them to keep their heads. There is no honor in being a dhimmi.

The article further reports:

When the host asked the sheikh “Do the Americans owe us jizya?”  he responded, “Yes,” adding that it is the price Americans have to pay “so we can leave them alone!”  When the host asked the sheikh if he was proclaiming a fatwa, the latter exclaimed, “By Allah of course!” The sheikh added that, to become a truly Islamic state, Egypt must “impose on America to pay aid as jizya, before we allow it to realize its own interests, the ones which we agree to.”

If giving Egypt foreign aid is interpreted by the Egyptian clerics as our acceptance of dhimmi status, then we need to stop that aid immediately. It is not in our best interests as a country to continue feeding this idea. Under Sharia Law, Muslims are not at all obligated to be truthful to dhimmis or to threat them well.

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Let’s Stop A Minute And Think About This

France 24 posted an article today stating that France will close 20 embassies across the Muslim world on Friday after French weekly Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed naked. Now wait a minute. I’m really not into naked pictures of Mohammed, but what is going on here? Did anyone notice that there were no riots after the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” was released? That movie was certainly as obnoxious to Christians as naked cartoons of Mohammed would be to Muslims.There were some peaceful protests, as allowed by American law, but no one was killed.

At some point you have to ask, “Is the problem the film, pictures, cartoon, or whatever the current medium is, or is the problem with the protesters?” There is nothing wrong with gathering in a group carrying signs expressing your opinion–killing people, however, is another matter. I recently heard an interview where someone who had spent considerable time in Iran talked about students who were called and told to be at a specific place for a spontaneous protest. I don’t even have a problem with that (provided they are peaceful protests). I wonder if part of the reason that protests seem to get out of hand in Muslim countries is that the right of protest is not universally guaranteed–protests are organized by the government or groups opposing the government and seem to be designed to get out of hand.  A spontaneous protest in a Muslim country is generally not allowed.

Over the years, Muslim leaders have mastered the art of propaganda. They have painted Israel as an apartheid state when Arabs in Israel have more freedom in Israel than they do in Muslim countries. The protests we are seeing are a part of that propaganda war. The protests are designed to make the western countries open to a concept found in Sharia Law–disrespecting Mohammed is punishable by death. The theory is that as violent protests follow any perceived slight to Mohammed or the Koran, the west will be intimidated into curtailing free speech in western countries. This is the beginning of the path to Sharia Law.

As western countries, we need to learn to condemn the people who commit violence–regardless of the perceived cause. Bad behavior needs to have consequences. Otherwise we will continue to see more of it.

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Why I Am Concerned About Free Speech

The thing to remember when dealing with Muslim blasphemy laws is that under Sharia Law, the charge of blasphemy has nothing to do with truth. If what has been said about the Muslim religion or its past or present leaders is negative, it can be considered blasphemy, whether it is true or not. I believe that in America some time in the near future, we will see the same standard applied to the concept of ‘hate speech’ against Islam. The case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria is an example of this happening in the European Union.

Front Page Magazine posted an interview with of Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff today. Please follow the link to read the entire article–it is fascinating. Because of her years of living in Muslim countries in the Middle East, both under Sharia Law and under secular governments, she understands totally how Muslims use ‘hate speech’ laws to curtail free speech.

In the article she explains where she is and how she got there:

What happened? A young woman, a journalist, had infiltrated two of my seminars in October and November, illegally recording my presentation, and then reported me to the Austrian authorities, who in turn began an official investigation. The charge: Hate speech.

The outpouring of criticism from official Austria was astounding. From the vice chancellor to the chief rabbi, from a high-ranking bishop to party leaders: My statements – all taken out of context – were condemned through and through. I was even compared to Bin Laden by one Muslim official. Not one of these so-called leaders bothered to ask for clarification from my side. I was to be vilified, my statements were to be condemned, for two reasons. First, I gave these seminars for the “right-wing, xenophobic” Freedom Party and second, the content of the seminars described Islam.

She continues:

Simply put, I have now been made a victimless convict. On December 20, 2011, my conviction for denigration of a legally recognized religion was upheld by the higher court.

What was the reason for this conviction, you may ask. Well, during the course of my seminars, I mentioned the choking EU directive “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia,” and in order to illustrate my point I told the audience about a conversation I had with my sister and how she believed that one should find a different word for Mohammed’s actions with Aisha. I said, “How does one name what he did if not call it pedophilia?” And this sentence got me convicted, for I am allowed by law to say that Mohammed had sex with a young girl, but I may not qualify this behavior as this is deemed “excessive” and thus denigrating. The Austrian state has created a victimless crime, and a criminal without a single victim.

The trial is now officially over. There is only one way to appeal, and that is taking the matter to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. But– this will cost a lot of money and will take a lot time (6-8 years minimum).

The law that Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted under took effect in November 2010, when all members of the European Union were required to implement the “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia”, or, more fully, the “Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008. The intent of the law was to combat racism and xenophobia. The impact of the law was to severely limit free speech.  

In the article, Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff details here supposed ‘crime’:

What was the reason for this conviction, you may ask. Well, during the course of my seminars, I mentioned the choking EU directive “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia,” and in order to illustrate my point I told the audience about a conversation I had with my sister and how she believed that one should find a different word for Mohammed’s actions with Aisha. I said, “How does one name what he did if not call it pedophilia?” And this sentence got me convicted, for I am allowed by law to say that Mohammed had sex with a young girl, but I may not qualify this behavior as this is deemed “excessive” and thus denigrating.

Again, under Sharia Law, blasphemy has nothing to do with truth. Evidently, under the new speech rules in the EU, that is also true.


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