Elisabeth takes her case to the European Court of Human Rights

Next Stop: The European Court of Human Rights

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Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is still guilty of “hate speech”. The Austrian Supreme Court upheld Elizabeth’s conviction of denigration of religious beliefs.

Tundra Tabloids live-blogged the story earlier this morning. Here’s what happened (times are in CET).

I will be live blogging from the Austrian Supreme Court House with the help of journalist, Henrik R.Clausen who is accompanying Elisabeth. The Austrian Supreme Court will be hearing Elisabeth’s case on Dec. 11th (today) at 10 am.

Her lawyer told her this is to seen as a very positive sign as the court could have and would have thrown out the case in written form. So, we may assume that the case will not be thrown out. This leaves the following two possibilities:

1. Uphold the existing conviction
2. Elisabeth will be acquitted, or
3. The case goes back to the lower courts.

The main question to be discussed is the merit/of what Elisabeth said. Does freedom of speech trump religious teachings?

In the courtroom:

10:42: Henrik R.Clausen: We are now in the courthouse. The defence atterney Dr. Rami says that an acquittal is quite likely — but adds that live reporting from the court room is not quite doable.
(TT: If that’s the case, then I will have to wait until they leave the courtroom and update the report at that time)
10:44: Henrik R.Clausen: While there is a good chance the case will be over and closed here, today, there is a reason it would be better to lose:

If the case is lost in Austria, it would be taken to the European Court of Human Rights, where the chance to win is very good. And winning it at the ECHR would have positive implications for free speech, includring the right to critize religion, all through Europe.

10:45: Henrik R.Clausen: Elisabeth getting ready for the court.
10:49: Henrik R.Clausen: The hearing is scheduled to last an hour. We cannot report directly from it, but will be taking notes and reporting right afterwards. The result first, of course!
11:51: Henrik R.Clausen: Bulk update coming below (Court is in recess):

The hearing is delayed due to the Public Prosecutor missing the 10 o’clock starting time. The Court starts with making a summary of previous proceedings, including the conviction of a € 480 fine or 60 days in prison for violation of Article 188, denigation of a legally recognized religion.

The Defence, Dr. Rami, presents his case, that since the statements of Elisabeth are based in documentation, they cannot be punishable under the law, as it does not constitute denigration.

He refers to the case of Salman Rushdie and his book “The Satanic Verses”, which would also be shocking to the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and to the Danish Mohammad cartoons, which were explicitly meant to mock the beliefs of others. Those cartoons led to extensive riots and many deaths, a clear sign that Islamic forces seek to limit our freedom of expression, in particular as it pertains to Islam.

Dr. Rami also refers to two similar cases which led to aquittal, despite broad negative portrayals of religions, including stating “Christianity is permeated by anti-Semitism”. What is on our desk today is benign compared to this. Further, the disputed statement (if Mohammad could rightly considered a paedophile or not) is a mere detail of a seminar about the foundations of Islam. And, as has been stated earlier, the idea that Mohammad was a paedophile makes sense in light of him having sexual relations to a minor (Aisha), as documented in Islamic scripture.

Finally, the whole point of freedom of expression is that it must be permissible to say things that cause offense, shock and unpleasent reactions among some listeners.

For the reason above, the Defense proposes that the Court delivers an unconditional acquittal.


12:05: Conviction upheld!
13:35: Henrik R.Clausen supplies more information:

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