What You Can (and Can’t) Say in Europe Today

Chalk Up a Victory for Violent Islamists

The editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo announced the magazine will no longer publish cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed. Six months earlier, Islamist gunmen slaughtered 12 people in the magazine’s offices, including the magazine’s editor, senior staff and cartoonists.

The magazine’s most prominent cartoonist, Rénald "Luz" Luzier, said earlier he would no longer draw the Prophet Mohammed since it "no longer interests me.” He quit the magazine altogether.

 

Denmark Drags Out Its Blasphemy Laws to Prosecute Speech Against Islam

 

Unlike Norway and Iceland, Denmark decided to not to cancel old laws against blasphemy, despite the fact the European Union published guidelines protecting freedom of religion and belief. The guidelines state the “right to freedom of religion or belief, as enshrined in relevant international standards, does not include the right to have a religion or a belief that is free from criticism or ridicule.”

A year after the February 14-15, 2015 shooting attacks in Copenhagen by Islamists — one at an event called "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression" — the Danish government convicted and fined Danish citizen Flemming Nielsen, for a November 2013 Facebook post critical of Islam.

 

The Gates of Vienna Investigating “Denigration of Religion”

Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders in under investigation by Austrian authorities for a speech he made in Vienna recently that compared the Quran with Hitler’s Mein Kampf and suggesting the former be banned as is the later.

Wilders, whose party is has been at the top or nearly at the top of the polls in Netherland for many years, made the comments in the context of arguing that members of parliaments of a nation that are accepting immigrants should have a say in the immigration policies.

In 2007, Wilders was acquitted of an accusation of hate speech for remarks he made that were critical of Islam.

 

 A “Grossly Offensive Message”

In Ireland, evangelical Pastor James McConnell, 78, is being prosecuted for a sermon he gave criticizing Islam. McConnell has been charged on two counts: improper use of a public electronic communications network (the sermon was live-streamed on the internet) and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network.

His lawyers have argued the sermon was legal under the statues of freedom of expression. The judge declined to throw the case out of court saying that he was not convinced there were not any circumstances under which the pastor could be found guilty.

 

Sharia Patrol? Germany Gov’t Says It's “Halal

A German court decided that nine Salafist Muslims who were arrested in Germany for setting up a sharia patrol will not be prosecuted. The group was patrolling the streets of Wuppertal in western Germany telling passersby that the area was a “Sharia-Controlled Zone,” which meant alcohol, drugs, gambling, music and concerts, pornography and prostitution were prohibited. Despite the fact that the group was dressed in in bright orange vests labelled “Sharia Patrol” and intimidating the public, the court announced that the group had not violated any German law.

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