A Fight to the End

As we reported last month, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff has exhausted all avenues of appeal within the Austrian “justice” system. Her final appeal will be heard in the European Court of Human Rights.

Below is an article about the case that was published earlier this month in an Austrian newspaper. Elisabeth sends this introduction to accompany the translation:

The march through the Austrian court system has finally come to a conclusion, though not in the way we free speech activists had wished for the struggle to end. Free speech has died, and with it our right to criticize an ideology that masquerades as a religion while reaping the benefits, both material and spiritual, of the Austrian state.

Just a reminder to the readers:

Islam, along with Christianity of all denominations, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Judaism, and Buddhism, has been a “legally recognized religion” in Austria since 1912. This entails the state, i.e. the taxpayer, shouldering the burden of religious education in schools and provides special tax breaks, among many other perks.

In order to achieve legal recognition, a religion must prove that its teachings are compatible with the precepts of the law. This is ideally done by providing the representative of the state (the minister of culture) with a translated copy of the religious teachings. All religious groups with legal status in Austria have done so; only one has not. Want to venture a guess as to which religious groups has been in arrears until this day?

As a result of this Law on Islam, one may not criticize religious teachings, even if the authorities do not know the contents of the Koran, the Sunna or the Sira, all of which make up Islam. And as a result, a conviction of “denigrating the religious teachings of a legally recognized religion” with respect to Islam constitutes enforcement of Sharia Law by the Austrian judiciary, even if they are unaware of this fact.

This is what occurred in my case. Back in late 2009, my seminars on Islam were infiltrated by a young (female) journalist and surreptitiously recorded. I was later reported to the authorities, who decided to put me on trial.

It is important to remember that there was never any victim, never anyone who felt any insult, no Muslims who complained, no imam who denounced what I had said. It was the state that took the case up in lieu of Muslims who “might be offended”. Offended by my simply stating the words of the Koran and the Sunna and musing about what these words might mean in the early 21st century in light of Koran 33:21, a verse that calls Mohammed Al Insan al Kamil, the man to be emulated by all devout Muslims for all times. That is what the Austrian legal system calls “denigration of religious teachings”; that is, it recognizes Mohammed’s marriage and consummation of his marriage to Aisha when she was six and nine, respectively. This behavior— which is to be emulated and is being emulated every single day as evidenced by news stories reporting the deaths of nine-year-olds after giving birth — will always be unacceptable.

The freedom to call a spade a spade must not be infringed due to religious laws and sensitivities. Laws gagging free speech must be repealed here in the European Union. I still dream of a European-style First Amendment that will allow us to speak our minds. Yet I realize that there is a long way to go; we haven’t even begun comprehending the magnitude of losing the right to free speech.

Do a survey on your own in the streets here in Europe. I am certain that most people will say: “Well, you should not have said what you said. If you had shut up, you wouldn’t have been in trouble. And anyway, you can’t say it that way.” As my lawyer rightly argued all the way to the Supreme Court, you may not like what I said, but I must have the right to say it. Free speech means saying things that may shock someone. Free speech is not necessary so that citizens may hear speeches by the president or the weather forecast.

To sum up: after fighting for nearly four years all legal possibilities have now been exhausted — unsuccessfully. My case has been pending at the European Court for Human Rights in Strasburg since February 2012, and will set an important precedent for the freedom to criticize religions and/or religiously-sanctioned conduct.

One final note: I will never cease fighting for my God-given right to free speech. Religious sensitivities must never trump freedom of speech.

The translated article from Die Presse, kindly translated by JLH:

Islam Seminar: Lecturer Loses At OGH

January 1, 2014

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted after a seminar given at the academy of the FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party). The OGH (Supreme Court) denies a new trial.

The Supreme Court has denied Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff’s application for a new trial. Sabaditsch-Wolff was fined €480 for denigration of religious teachings, because she had spoken disparagingly of the Prophet Mohammed.

In a seminar for young voters, Sabaditsch-Wolff is said have credited the Prophet Mohammed with “going through a fair number of women” and let the impression come through that he “had a thing for children” — noting that his third wife, in line with Islamic tradition, was reportedly six years old when he married her and nine when the marriage was consummated.

Sabaditsch-Wolff was sentenced to a fine of €480 in the Viennese Provincial Criminal Court in February 2011 for denigration of religious teachings, but acquitted of hate speech. The Viennese Appeals Court confirmed the conviction in December 2011. At that time, the defendant announced her intention to fight for the freedom of expression “to the very end.”

In a decision announced on Wednesday, the Supreme Court has denied the appeal. Grounds are that “the required weighing of interests spoke for the protection of religious feelings of others according to Article 9 MRK” (European Human /Rights Convention).

Attorney: “We Will Appeal the Decision”

Sabaditsch-Wolff’s attorney, Michael Rami, declared: “We are already prepared to fight the decision of the Appeals Court at the European Court on Human Rights and will fight this one too.” To date, there is no decision at the European Court, nor can it be estimated when the case will be heard, says Rami.

“It is not a question of whether the statements are considered good or bad, but whether it is legally permissible to say such things.” The basic right to freedom of expression, said the attorney, covers “also and specifically statements that are shocking.” The attorney noted that Sabaditsch-Wolff’s statements were “factually based.”

For previous posts on the “hate speech” prosecution of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, see Elisabeth’s Voice: The Archives.

24 thoughts on “A Fight to the End

  1. It is more than just the statement of fact about Islamic belief. It is expression of disapproval rather than approval. An Imam can say the very same fact without being prosecuted, precisely because he approves of it.

  2. My heart sank while reading this; I wish all the best to the defendant in this horrible, shameful trial.

    I find the abject surrender of the Austrians to a barbaric “faith” far more disturbing than the barbaric faith itself.

    Austrians are afraid to insult the barbarians because their repulsive totalitarian ideology is a “religion”. How lame. How totally ignorant this is. Even in the 18th century, French writers such as Diderot and Voltaire were writing about captured Europeans being sold into slavery – these are books I read as a child, and this is common knowledge about islam and its treatment of nonbelievers.

    Shame on Austria, for respecting those who do not respect you, because when they get the chance, you will be eliminated. Shame on the Europe for not realizing what the massive immigration of proponents of this barbaric faith will do to your children and grand-children, who will be forced to convert to islam.

    Shame on Europe for forgetting your own history and the fight that your ancestors had to put against the moslem invaders. You will be conquered, your cultures will be erased, your cities raped and in 10 centuries, as for modern-day Syria, no one will remember that Europe was once Christian. No one will remember Mozart or Beethoven. There will only be islam and incessant war.

  3. As an American, with the 1st amendment backing me up, it is hard to contemplate the legal entanglement that ESW finds herself in.
    Take heed Americans… Based on a few crucial rulings of recent SCOTUS decisions, we are at a razors edge of being in the same boat.
    Best wishes to you ESW at the European Court and, thank you for taking it this far.

  4. Why good fruits are difficult to grow and are vulnerable? Why good animals are difficult to increase? Where prophets were so scarce? Why martyrs (i.e. martyrs who say what they believe but never commit an act of violence for their beliefs) so rare? Why defenders of truth are so rare but defenders of falsehoods so numerous? Why Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff fights alone and no one pays attention to what she is defending? You will find defenders of REAL truth, as found in Jihadwatch and Gates of Vienna, only 3 of 4 in every Western country, but defenders of Islam and falsehoods are amount to millions? Why do we vote for Governments that do exactly what is inimical to the voters? Why western countries have lost the discernment and nuance? Why they are servile to Islam? Why they can’t work for the future of their own countries, but they do everything to promote Muslim Brotherhood everywhere? Why atrocities committed by Alnusra Front in Syria are never mentioned?

  5. If we lose the war of words and will now, we will also lose the horrible hot war awaiting Europe in the near future.

  6. If you criticize a death cult, you get fined?

    Can Europeans not mock whatever they like?

    Sounds like it’s time for a new stage production of Voltaire’s classic play “Muhammed- Or~ Fanaticism”.

    Or are dead people’s criticism’s of religions forbidden too?

    Wouldn’t that require banning thousands of books?

    Starting with the Koran, since it is fundamentally a contemptuous criticism of Judaism and Christianity… along with every other religion on Earth.

  7. If, perish the thought, Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff loses at the European Court, does this then mean that the religion of permanent offense can take cases against people across Europe who dare to say things they don’t like?

    • This is probably where it will lead to. Already many lose their jobs and friends for speaking out against Islam, I have heard all throughout Europe. Even jokes invoke disgusted glances from the PC moral-highground crowd. But fine to joke about i.e. christianity.

      As with dear Elisabeth, God bless and protect her , anyone can betray you. Stasi-like environment.
      ” Silence ! Resistance is futile. You VIL believe islam is a religion of peace, superior, moral and just, it is imperative you do for the future of the EUSSR”

  8. “In order to achieve legal recognition, a religion must prove that its teachings are compatible with the precepts of the law. This is ideally done by providing the representative of the state (the minister of culture) with a translated copy of the religious teachings. All religious groups with legal status in Austria have done so; only one has not. Want to venture a guess as to which religious groups has been in arrears until this day?”

    See Khan v. United Kingdom, Application No. 11579/85

    Legal precedent, in a European court, that the Islamic teachings regarding marrying underage girls and consummating the marriage is not “compatible with the precepts of the law”.


    DECISION of 7 July 1986 on the admissibility of the application.


    The applicant is a British citizen, born in 1961 and resident in Huddersfield. The facts, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows: The applicant, a Muslim, met and fell in love with a Muslim girl under the age of 16. They requested the girl’s father’s consent to marry, which was refused on three occasions. The girl left home with the applicant’s assistance and they underwent an Islamic marriage ceremony on 5th November 1982. Under Islamic law, a Muslim girl may marry without her parents’ consent on attaining the age of 12 years. The girl was then 14 1/2 years of age and the applicant 21 years of age. […]

  9. …cont.

    The applicant was charged with abduction of a girl from the possession of the father contrary to Section 20 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 (“the 1956 act”) and with sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 contrary to Section 6 (1) of the 1956 Act. The applicant was tried on 19th June 1984 and sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment on the second count. […]


    Article 9 The applicant claims that he was prevented from manifesting his religion through his marriage under Islamic law by the operation of Section 6 (1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

    Article 12 The applicant claims that the custodial sentence imposed upon him under the 1956 Act prevented him from consummating his marriage and from founding a family.

    Article 14 The applicant claims that he was discriminated against in that the judge failed to take into consideration his religion, under which it is considered lawful for a girl to marry on attaining the age of 12 years without her parents’ consent. […]

  10. THE LAW

    1. The applicant complains that he has been prevented from manifesting his religion through his Islamic marriage by the operation of the legislation which makes it an offence to have sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16. By Islamic law, the applicant may marry a girl without her parents’ consent if she has reached the age of 12. He also complains that the custodial sentence imposed upon him prevented him from exercising his right to marry and found a family.

    It is true that Article 9 secures to everyone the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to manifest their religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice or observance. However, the term “practice” as employed in Article 9 para. 1 does not cover each act which may be motivated or influenced by religion or belief.

    While the applicant’s religion may allow marriage of girls at the age of 12, marriage cannot be considered simply as a form of expression of thought, conscience or religion, but is governed specifically by Article 12. […] The Commission must therefore examine the applicant’s complaints under Article 12.

    • “By Islamic law, …”


      Should UK & European justice systems not be oblivious and blind to Islamic law?

  11. …cont.

    Article 12 states that: “Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.”

    The Commission recalls that under English law, a girl may lawfully marry with her parents’ consent on attaining the age of 16 and without their consent on reaching the age of 18. A marriage contracted with a girl under the age of 16 is invalid and sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 is an offence under Section 6 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, the provision under which the applicant was lawfully sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment. The applicant’s girlfriend was therefore not of the marriageable age required by internal law. Since the right to marry guaranteed under Article 12 is subject to the internal laws governing the exercise of this right, the Commission concludes that in the circumstances of the case there is no appearance of a violation of the rights under the Convention and in particular of Articles 9 and 12.

    As regards the applicant’s complaint that the custodial sentence itself prevented him consummating his marriage and founding a family, the Commission recalls that even if the marriage was considered valid under international law, lawful detention must of necessity interfere in the relations of a married couple and does not of itself constitute a violation of Article 12.

    It accordingly follows that this part of the application must be dismissed as manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para 2 of the Convention.

  12. “denigration of religious teachings”

    Not a lot of wiggle room there, to stand by the “denigration of religious teachings” comment is an admission of guilt in the eyes of the law.

    In for a penny in for a pound challenge islam as not being an authentic religion, more a socio-political cult.

  13. My eyes cannot believe what they read. The once heralded, lofty, noble motherland of contemporary western civilization is succumbing to a rabble of desert jackals.

    the breeding ground and incubator of free-thinkers, rationalists, humanists and theological giants and true birthplace of contemporary scientific thought and progress shall be brought to its knees by the ghost of a pedophilic, murdering, racist nomad.

    ooops. glad I live on the moon.

  14. “Do a survey on your own in the streets here in Europe. I am certain that most people will say: “Well, you should not have said what you said. If you had shut up, you wouldn’t have been in trouble. And anyway, you can’t say it that way.” ”

    From those who I’ve told about this case (mainly friends in Poland, some in England), I haven’t yet heard such a reaction. But if one were to occur, perhaps one way to reply would be to ask if they thought someone should be fined for saying something against Jesus, or the Pope…

  15. Austria – Hitler’s birthplace.

    Sie haben nichts gelernt zeit 1938.

    Translation: You have learned nothing since 1938

  16. Why not petition the Austrian Minister of Culture using a standard translation of appropriate parts of Koran, Sunnah and Hadith, that Islam and Sharia are not compatible with any number of legal principles and laws? If the Minister becomes obtuse (or pressured), pursue this issue through the Courts. I have a faint recollection that there was an attempt to illegalize the Koran in India (Bengal?) for that book’s promotion of violence and hate.

  17. Pingback: ZION'S TRUMPET » Lest We Forget: Freedom of Speech is On Trial Everywhere Because of islam

  18. No doubt, ES-W has been treated extremely bad by the Austrian court system. But when she appeals to the the European Court on Human Rights, at the same time she requires that the court undermines the Austrian sovereignty.

    • Given that Austria has undermined her right to speak, it seems the lesser evil. The individual against the might of a state is a frightening thing.

      I admire her courage. This is going to be expensive and nerve-wracking

        • Is your point that the sovereignty of the state trumps individual rights?

          Austria’s elemental injustice here – and the trap set by the journalist, violating private speech – seems at least as important as state sovereignty. Besides, Austria and all other EU states gave up their sovereignty when they unionized.

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