One of our readers just sent us excerpts from an article by Nina Shea and Paul Marshall in the Wall Street Journal about the growing threat to free speech in Europe. The authors focus mainly on Geert Wilders, of course, but they refer to other victims of “hate speech” prosecutions and Islamic lawfare, such as Philippe Val, Jussi Halla-aho, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Brigitte Bardot, and… Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.
They even spelled Elisabeth’s name right, except for omitting the hyphen.
This is a major breakthrough for the American MSM. As far as I know, this is the first time that either Elisabeth or Jussi has seen the light of day in a major American media outlet.
The article is behind a subscription firewall, so I will post only some brief excerpts here:
We Need to Talk About Islam
Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders was threatened with criminal punishment for hate speech from the moment his anti-Koran film Fitna hit the internet in March 2008. Last month, a Dutch judicial oversight body ordered that he be tried anew after finding that judges in the first round of court proceedings appeared to be biased. Even if Mr. Wilders is ultimately acquitted, as his prosecutors themselves urge, he will have already been punished by years of costly and tiring legal wrangling.
But the greatest threat posed by this case is not to a lone Dutch firebrand, but to Europeans at large, whose fundamental freedoms of speech and religion are being steadily undermined. Those trying to repress these individual rights in the name of sensitivity are gaining ground with each case that upholds the state’s power to regulate the content of speech on Islam. Since Mr. Wilders’ defense does not challenge the legitimacy of hate-speech laws per se, but instead points to the specific facts of his case, even his acquittal would not alter this encroachment on core Western rights.
Religious hate-speech is not clearly defined in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe. Council of Europe standards emphasize the subjectivity of the offense, stating that, with respect to religion, “there is no right to offend,” that “gratuitously offensive” speech is not protected, and that there exists a new “right of citizens not to be insulted in their religious feelings.” In an attempt to carve out protections for political speech and social commentary, the Council distinguishes between speech that insults Muslims, which it forbids, and that which insults Islam or would be considered blasphemous, which it permits.
Mr. Wilders argues that his film and his other criticisms entail only the latter…
Former actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has been convicted and fined in five separate French cases for intemperate comments about Muslims, many focusing on animal cruelty in halal slaughter practices. In Austria, Elisabeth Sabaditsch Wolff is currently on trial for her lecture before an anti-immigration political party criticizing Muslim practices she observed abroad. For her, Geert Wilders, Brigitte Bardot, and others, their unease about Muslim immigration reflects their negative views of Islam itself.
Yes, it would be nice if the article also mentioned Gregorius Nekschot, Lionheart, Dahn Pettersson, Tomashot, Paul Belien, and all the other European citizens who have been persecuted for speaking out about Islam and Multiculturalism. But this is a good start.
Readers who have a subscription should go over to the Wall Street Journal and read the rest.
Update: A reader sends these useful instructions for accessing the entire article:
You can read the WSJ article by entering the URL in Google’s search box. The search returns the article in question on WSJ website; click that. It will fully load the article, because you are being referred from Google.
I just tried it, and he’s right: you can read the complete text, and even see the photo of Geert Wilders.
Previous posts about the hate speech case against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff:
Previous posts about the persecution of Jussi Halla-aho: