As far as I know, this is the first actual jail sentence handed down for “hate speech” in Austria or Germany. German-speaking readers may know of other such cases.
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was sentenced to pay a fine or do jail time if she didn’t pay, but the system in Austria is set up to make it virtually impossible to refuse to pay a fine — the state has multiple ways of taking your money from you against your will.
Many thanks to JLH for translating this article from the Austrian daily Der Standard:
Burgenlander Said to Stir up Hatred Against Muslims — Conditional Three-Month Sentence
August 30, 2016
The 39-year-old was found guilty because of something he had posted on Foreign Minister Kurz’s Facebook page. The sentence is not yet legally binding.
Eisenstadt — Because he is said to have posted hate speech against Muslims on the Facebook page of Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP — Austrian People’s Party), a Burgenland resident had to face court in Eisenstadt on Tuesday. Since the 39-year-old did not appear, he was judged in absentia. Judge Wolfgang Rauter delivered the guilty verdict and sentenced the man conditionally to three months in prison.
The South Burgenlander is said to have posted the two entries, which brought him into conflict with the law, on June 6th. According to the complaint, they said: “It’s true it isn’t 1938. Otherwise, Muslims, in their hatred for Jews, would be marching with Hitler’s Afrika Korps (sic!) and slaughtering people on the Balkan front.” He is also said to have written that Muslims were “never human beings” and Islam was “also no religion.”
“His View of Religion”
Presenting passages from the description of the defendant’s liability, the judge determined that the 39-year-old had basically confessed to what had happened. He had explained his posts with “his view of religion.” He said that he had learned in his religious instruction “that you should honor your father and mother and should not kill.”
He is also said to have referred to an incident in which a 17-year-old killed his father, “because he loved music, and that was not all right according to the Koran.” Furthermore, the man felt disadvantaged by his small stature of under 1.5 meters and “also did not have very good dealings with Muslim fellow workers.”
“That just goes too far.” The posts fulfilled the elements of hate speech. A religious community was being made contemptible. The prosecutor demanded a punishment appropriate to guilt and actions. “And it is also uncontested that the defendant made these posts,” said the judge as he pronounced sentence.
The crime of hate speech is in the tension between free expression and the right of religious communities to be protected from hate-mongering statements. The court was proceeding on the assumption that the elements of the hate speech were “just” satisfied, the judge said in his decision. The verdict is conditional.