Blasphemy not freedom of speech: European court

Blasphemy not freedom of speech: European court
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A Vienna court in 2011 had convicted a 47-year-old woman from Vienna, identified only as E.S. for disparaging religious doctrines. The court also ordered her to pay a 480-euro ($547) fine, plus costs.

Berlin: In a historic judgment, the European Court of Human Rights says an Austrian woman’s conviction for blasphemy against the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) didn’t breach her freedom of speech. According to foreign media, the Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled on Thursday that Austrian courts had “carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected.”

A Vienna court in 2011 had convicted a 47-year-old woman from Vienna, identified only as E.S. for disparaging religious doctrines. The court also ordered her to pay a 480-euro ($547) fine, plus costs. Later other domestic courts upheld the decision before the case was brought before the ECHR. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said the Austrian court’s decision “served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace.”

While the women had argued that her comments fell within her right of freedom of expression and religious groups must tolerate criticism, the court said that the statements were not based on facts and were intended to denigrate Islam.