|The speaker, whose case was referred to the Court, was condemned for publicly “disparaging a person who is an object of veneration”, namely Muhammad, in a manner, “capable of arousing justified indignation”.
The Court reprimanded her because she declared that Muhammad, “liked to [have relations] with children”, as he had wed Aisha, who had been six years old at the time of marriage, and only nine years old when the marriage was consummated. The speaker noted that it was a problem, because the highest commandment for a male Muslim is to imitate Muhammad.
She also added, more generally, that “Muslims get into conflict with democracy and our value system.”
The speaker was giving a seminar with about thirty other participants, entitled “Basic Information on Islam”.
She was sentenced to a €480 fine, or sixty days’ imprisonment, even though her speech was based on facts that the Muslim tradition considers true and whose diffusion, in a political context, took part in the public debate.
In this case the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will have to choose between freedom of speech and prosecution of blasphemy.
The ECLJ has been working for more than ten years with the UN and the Council of Europe against the attempt of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to impose, in international law, a crime of blasphemy, also called crime of “libel against Islam”.
For the ECLJ, freedom of religion and freedom of speech are complementary, and there is no right, for believers and non-believers, not to be subject to criticism. Only insults, slander and obscenity which are gratuitously offensive to others, as well as speech inciting immediate violence, can be limited.
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