Written by Henrik R. Clausen
EuropeNews 25 Dec 2011
While I was working on a polite essay ”What is 'denigration', really?”, events overtook the intended polite and analytical approach. At an Austrian court, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff had her conviction for ”Denigrating the teachings of a recognized religion” upheld. The court deemed that her uttering ”an excess of opinion” about Muhammad having sex with minors, and that doing so was subject to a fine of 480 euros, alternatively 60 days in jail.
Many of us consider freedom of expression is a fundamental right in itself. Expressions used in criminal ways, like committing fraud or inciting violence is indeed a matter for the courts, but a victimless crime where not even a single Muslim protested that his faith had been 'denigrated', surely cannot be subject to legal action, fines or jail time. In a free society, that is.
The difference comes when the State as such submits to Islam. In that case, the supposed 'sanctity' of Islamic teachings obtain protection by the Law, and due to the Islamic tradition that the life of Muhammad was a perfect example for all (male) Muslims, everything Muhammad did is to be considered holy and thus protected from criticism. That includes his having sex with minors.
The implications of this are huge, for how are we to speak out against the tradition of child brides that still exist in many Islamic countries if we're not even permitted to express any ”excess of opinion”, as defined by the Court? Would we have to run every possible criticism or sarcastic comment past the Court for approval before it is made public? What are people whose e livelihood consists of satire and mockery – stand-up comedians, satire magazines – supposed to do if they come across the idea to mock religiously sanctioned sexual relationships with minors, or those who justify them?
Also, according to the Courts of Austria, we are supposed to avoid the term 'paedophilia' when talking about old men having sex with prepubescent girls. For, according to the Court of Austria, 'paedophilia' denotes the urge to have sex with under age girls, not the actual act of doing so. Further, if these sexual relations continue until the girl reaches maturity, calling the relationship 'paedophile' is an excess of opinion that cannot be permitted. One wonders what Mr. Fritzl thinks of that decision...
There exist other and freer countries than Austria, for instance Denmark. Here it is still permissible to express negative opinions about religious stupidity or evil, as long as that is not directed against some minority group or others. Convictions do happen, however, if an ”excess of opinion” is directed against minority groups, as happened for Lars Hedegaard and Jesper Langballe, when they made passing references to the high frequency of sexual assaults within Muslim families.
But enough of the boring analysis, let's get to what matters, namely denigrating some religious stupidity. Here's a Top 10 of Islamic ”religious teachings” that deserve nothing but scorn and mockery. Let's start with some benign and obvious issues, then move on to more complex ones:
It is (fortunately) well known today that a human pregnancy lasts roughly 9 months, not the 4 months that Muhammad teaches. This unqualified take on embryology is probably a poor paraphrase from the Greek doctor Galen.
The claim that an angel arrives dictating the life essentials of the newborn is both unsubstantiated (no angel-sightings are on record for more than a millenium) and a mockery of other religious teachings, in particular what most religions teach that we have a free will and a choice of being good or evil. Islam explicitly denies humans that fundamental freedom.
Now, isn't this the material that the best of mockeries are made from? The Grand Leader declaring that the Earth was made for him, that terrorism and theft is legal for him, that he has direct contact to the God(s), and is destined to rule everyone? Yet, mocking this 'religious teaching' constitutes a punishable offence under Austrian law.
This rather nonsensical explanation of the purpose of stars is another 'religious teaching' protected by the Law in Austria. Calling it ”utterly foolish” would probably constitute yet another ”excess of opinion”, when a cooler and more factual ”science has obliterated this fake superstition for good” would do. Or was it the other way round?
Any decent peace activist should roll over laughing if told that this 'religious teaching' is protected by Austrian law against mockery and ”excessive negative opinions”. Austrians are permitted to state that war is compulsory in Islam, but suggesting that this implies that the idea of the 'Moderate Muslim' has been a lie and a fabrication from the time of Muhammed would probably fall on the wrong side of the fence, at least in Austria.
Calling Islam a ”Fanatics creed” in Austria surely would invoke the ”excess of opinion” problem.
Not only is this openly racist, it is also terrorist, as well as inciting to theft and violence. Passages like these make a mockery of religion as such, yet are protected under Austrian Law.
Since Muhammad continued his sexual exploits of Aisha until she was 18, the court of Austria ruled that this cannot legally be termed 'paedophilia', since that would constitute a ”denigration of a legally recognized religion”.
The Apostle saw Ummu'l when she was a baby crawling before his feet and said, ”If she grows up, I will marry her.” But he died before he was able to do so.
This is so sick that adding further mockery seems pointless. Yet this is supposed to be 'religious'. Yet, it's worth understanding the logic of the Court here:
The key reason that the original verdict was upheld is that the court objected to her having said: ”Muhammad had a thing with children”, Elisabeth restraining her expression trying to keep within the bounds of the Law. That failed, for the use of plural was found unjustified by the Court. Yet, as shown here, the plural was justified, only death prevented another child marriage from taking place. In a truly free country, however, it would still be legal to make the trivial mistake of using a plural form, then accepting the correction to singular without incurring the wrath of the Court.
The Messenger of Allah married fifteen women. He combined eleven at a time and left behind nine.
Layla approached the Prophet while his back was to the sun and clapped him on his shoulder. He asked her who it was and she replied, 'I am the daughter of one who competes with the wind. I am Layla. I have come to offer myself to you.' He replied, 'I accept.'" [Layla shared her story with her parents.] "They said, 'What a bad thing you have done! You are a self-respecting girl, but the Prophet is a womanizer.'"
Again we see the Court unaware of Islamic scripture when reprimanding Elisabeth for mentioning that Muhammad ”had a relatively high consumption of women”, for that also can be found in the Islamic scripture. That the court objects to an obvious understatement of the facts is a mockery of justice.
Many thanks to Craig Winn for providing good overview and readable translations at PropheOfDoom.net.
Fair warning: Austrians would be exposed to an ”excess of opinion” by visiting this site.
Now, while this is being written in Denmark, I hope it makes sufficient mockery of Islamic religious teachings to violate the law in Austria. But before the crooked judges of Vienna fill out a European Arrest Warrant in my name, let me point them and others to the Master of Mockery Pat Condell whose hilarious videos would now be illegal in Austria. You may watch them here (if you're not Austrian): Pat Condell's Godless Comedy
Endnote: The Islam Law in Austria
The specific law that protects Islam from criticism was passed in 1912 by Austrian-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, probably in order to secure that Muslims would serve in the Austrian-Hungarian imperial army. The law can be read here.