The European Court of Human Rights ruled last week that defamatory comments about the prophet Muhammad are not covered by free speech.
According to The National Review, the court decided that insulting Muhammad “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and could “stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace.”
The ruling came after an Austrian woman claimed that her conviction for describing Muhammad as a “pedophile” violated her free speech rights. The woman had said during public seminars that Muhammad’s marriage to a 6-year-old girl was consummated when she was 9, and thus could be described as pedophilia.
“What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?” she said.
A reporter covering the seminars took the comments to an editor who turned them over to police, according to Life Site News.
In 2011, the woman was convicted of disparaging religious doctrines and sentenced to pay a $574 fine. An Austrian appeals court upheld the original conviction.
In the most recent court decision, the court said the woman’s comments were “not objective and had no intention of contributing to public debate.”
“The national courts found that Ms. S had subjectively labeled Muhammad with pedophilia as his general sexual preference, and that she failed to neutrally inform her audience of the historical background, which consequently did not allow for a serious debate on that issue,” the court said.
Under the European Court of Human Rights, Austria has the right “to ensure the peaceful co-existence of religious and non-religious groups and individuals under its jurisdiction by ensuring an atmosphere of mutual tolerance.”
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.