Anti-Buddhist “Hate Speech” in Gföhl

Our Austrian correspondent AMT sends a tip about the prosecution of a Christian lawyer who was convicted of “hate speech” after campaigning against the building of a Buddhist shrine. She includes this note as an introduction to an article about the case:

Dr. Alfons Adam is a devout Christian and an activist. He decided that the small town of Gföhl in northern Austria did not need a huge stupa (Buddhist prayer house), and publicized his opinion. He was then reported to the authorities for hate speech (Verhetzung) and found guilty.

As a matter of interest, local citizens were given a say in whether or not the structure would be built, and voted against it in a referendum. This was different from what happens when a mosque is built — no referendum is ever allowed.

While Dr. Adam’s flyers may not be liked by Buddhists, they should not be seen as hate speech, but perhaps “denigration of religious teaching”. Even so, he did not attack Buddhists themselves, but merely pointed out Buddhist teachings that were, in his eyes, incompatible with the views of those of Christianity.

In any case, his freedom of speech should trump freedom of religion. Or so one would think…

Many thanks to JLH for translating this article from ORF:

Stupa: Convicted of Hate-Speech

There was an aftermath to the referendum on the construction of a Buddhist stupa* in Gföhl (Krems district). Because of a circular, an attorney had to appear to answer a charge of hate speech. He was convicted.

The 69-year-old was found guilty and fined €5,400. It was charged that, as chief of an organization and a party, he had authorized circulars in which Buddhism was described as an inhumane ideology.

The circular was delivered to 1,629 households in Gföhl.

As part of the run-up in February 2012 to a referendum on the construction of a stupa, it was delivered to 1,629 Gföhl households. Defense attorney Thomas Kaumberger filed an appeal. The verdict — met with boisterous disapproval by the defendant’s many supporters — is not legally binding.

Among other things, the religious group is described in the circular as bellicose, seeking world domination and as having moved toward pedophilia and National Socialism, said state’s attorney Franz Hütter, in commenting on insults which are damaging to human dignity. Recognized religious communities, he said, are protected in Austria; the judgmental description in the circular was intended to encourage hatred.

Accused attorney spoke for one and one-half hours

The defense argued the contrary, citing freedom of expression. In the light of religious freedom, and as a believing Catholic, the defendant had wanted to warn other Christians. The statements in the circular had been proven.

In a presentation lasting just one and one-half hours, the accused himself attempted to prove the claims in the circular. He did that with quotations from the internet and diverse books on Buddhist rituals. The 69-year-old said that the purpose was to prevent a Buddhist religious center. He regarded the fact that he had even been arrested as directed against Christians. “This is about social policy — Christians are to be pushed aside.”

The mayor, too, had to testify

The mayor of Gföhl, who had supported the project, testified that the circulars had appeared in the last week before the referendum. There were a number of circulars at that time, “[some] below the belt, but [some] open-minded.” The referendum resulted in a rejection of the project. He was not acquainted with defendant, who had never been in Gföhl.

In the grounds for her judgment, Judge Susanne Daniel indicated that diverse interpretations are represented in every religion, but they may not be used as a general rule or overall evaluation.

An email sent out by Dr. Alfons Adam:

November 13, 2013

Dear Like-minded friends!

Today, the Krems provincial court convicted me of hate speech and sentenced me to a fine of €5,400. Of course, I have appealed. Obviously the verdict was agreed between the state’s attorney and the judge, impelled by the results of my testimony of proofs. For over an hour, I showed by quotations that everything said in the circular about the Tibetan Lama is true. It did not matter.

What matters is supporting everything that serves to extinguish the Christian faith in our land.

The legal justification is noteworthy. Because Buddhism is a recognized religion, nothing negative may be said about it, true or not. The appeals court in Vienna will probably confirm this scandalous decision. I estimate that — despite an inconvenient time and remote location — about 60 of my friends were present to show support. Which made me very happy, in spite of everything. And this gives me hope that we can carry out some common action. But more on that later.

And now to all those “soldiers of prayer,” who are, I hope, not too disappointed. I know there were many of you. We do not know God’s plan. It is certain that He will answer our prayers in His own way.

I can say no more today. We must sleep on this.

Alfons Adam

* Hemispherical Buddhist commemorative monument usually housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha or other saintly persons.

18 thoughts on “Anti-Buddhist “Hate Speech” in Gföhl

  1. Remember my gloomy prognosis for Germany? This is just one example to prove my point. Well, Germany was not meant literally, I should have said german-language countries in general (because it’s the language and the habits that come with it), with the occasional exception of Switzerland. Still I’m doubtful if traditional Switzerland is sufficiently strong to survive. Just follow the policies of its ‘elite’, like their relentless attempts to more and more outmanoeuvre the people’s direct democratic rights, by invoking the ever-useful obligations stemming from ‘binding international conventions’…

    • I’m not so sure. The powers that be will go on doing what they do, and they’ll still be doing it when their world is falling about their ears.

  2. ” Even so, he did not attack Buddhists themselves, but merely pointed out Buddhist teachings that were, in his eyes, incompatible with the views of those of Christianity.”

    Off course, Buddhism is different from Christianity
    but not everything different from Christianity is wrong.

    All of that brings me to the question:
    Why people treat evil ideology leniently but what doesn’t bring any risks, is treated very badly?
    Is it because something is not evil,
    is an easy target?

    • “Is it because something not evil is an easy target?

      Spot on!

      In my opinion, the question should be: “Are the Buddhist activities according to the Austrian law”? (Which the Muslim activities NEVER are to any law of any western country!)

      • Buddhism is a set of teachings on the nature of mind, and as a religion is concentrated on it rather than on how to influence, change or break the law in any way.

        Buddhists are smart people and certainly wish all the best to Mr. Alfons Adam.

  3. Hell, they’re just screwing up their own country. That’s why so many people have emigrated from Austria over the years.

  4. My inlaws live a few miles from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, located in Northern California.

    I’ve visited the monastery there many times. It is a wonderful place, quite and contemplative. I can’t imagine anyone objecting to these people being in their community. Though many in the surronding area of Mendocino County do. The monks there have much they could teach the Christian community about living a life of piety. A lesson in life, much of Western Europe could use right now.

    • I have taken refuge in Buddhist monasteries all over the world. Always a place to find truth and the peace of God. A refuge from the mad world. A stark contrast to the insane brutality, savagery and non Godliness of islam and its appeasers.

  5. Messed up traumatized Kufars trying to assert themselves. Save it for what is inevitably coming down the line. The Nazis got a free ride for a long time too.

  6. wildiris, I suggest that the issue is not whether Buddhism is or is not peaceful etc. The issue is whether someone should be prosecuted and fined for publicly voicing their objections to another party’s proposals. I believe that this man did nothing wrong; people should be allowed to express their views and others should then be free to accept or reject them. That’s civilised behaviour isn’t it? Punishing people for not following the elites’ diktats is totalitarianism, isn’t it?

  7. A liitle Buddhism here a little Hinduism there and the de-Christianising of the west continues one baby step at a time. When all the baby steps finally add up, your country belongs to someone else.

    • Buddhism in its history, has never conducted a war against another religion, nation or culture. The mission of Buddhism is not about imposing their faith to the others but is the proposal: if you want to know something about the mind, come to us. That’s all.
      Culture, tradition, it remains in Buddhist countries such as Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, etc. In Europe Buddhism is focused only on the precise Buddhas teaching abut the mind. These teachings are compatible with respect for the women rights, respect to other religions, cultures, laws …

      You will not see the Buddhists in costumes from seventh century, you will not see them blocking the streets of your city during their prayers, trying to take your space of living and calling to the destruction of your culture. Definitely not.

      I think, on the contrary, I believe that Buddhism does not pose any threat to Christianity and the Christian Europe.

      • There is a definite political decision in Sri Lanka to remove any non-Buddhists. Christians and Muslims number aboout 17% each of the population there and they report discrimination by the Buddhist majority when it comes to education, jobs, etc.

        That’s just human nature and Buddhists are not immune.

        Here’s a map and some info on Canada’s and India’s formal protests to the Sri Lankan govt:

        BTW, my percentages are out-of-date by now. I gathered the information when that young Sri Lankan girl in Ohio ran away from home and ended up in Florida. She became a ward of the court before her jurisdiction was returned to Ohio. She was able to graduate from high school and must be in some kind of protection program since, iirc, she went on to college from there and dropped off the radar.

        At any rate, there is probably a net annual loss of Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka since even the Dalai Lama said he thought that Buddhists ought to have at least one country that was totally theirs. No, I don’t have the quote, but I did read it – from within his framework of the level of persecution of Buddhists it makes sense that he wants a recognized refuge.

        • Well corrected, the percentage of followers
          of the Paedo Prophet in Sri Lanka seems to be about 8 %. Myanmar percentage wise
          is more Bhuddist at around 95%.

  8. No matter what my personal opinion of Buddhism might be, I do not see why it should be prohibited to criticise it in a presumably democratic country. Calling a religion ‘inhumane’ can hardly qualify as an expression of hatred. It is just a critical opinion. Of course, this opinion might hurt Buddhists’ feelings. Then, if it is democratically decided that religious feelings must never be hurt, it should apply to all religions, including Christianity. But this is not the case. In modern Europe, it is considered that everyone has the right not just to criticise Christianity, but to level any sort of accusations against it, however, false and absurd. Moreover, public expression of Christian religious feelings is subjected to ever-increasing limitations, which sometimes amount to outright discrimination.

    In view of the fact that Christianity is the foundation of European – including Austrian – culture, morality, traditional way of life, while Buddhism has not played any significant part in European history, it appears suicidal to vehemently reject Christianity while favouring Buddhism, Islam and other exotic religious doctrines.

    It also seems undemocratic to ignore the opinion of the people in whose town this stupa is to be constructed.

  9. And now the mayor says journalists should be hung like the Jews?
    Well, what a surprise. I thought he would say journalists should be hung with piano wire, very slowly, like Hitler did his Christian aryian generals who turned on him. Oh well, proof again there is no bottom to stupidity and hatred.

  10. Seems to me that the speech of the Mayor sounds more like “hate speech”, hang the journalists like Jews! Will the mayor now also be fined for such words? if not what kind of justice does Austria have?

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