Elisabeth Was Wrongly Convicted for Something She Never Uttered

Republished here courtesy of Henrik R Clausen. Admin

Convicted for calling Muhammad a ‘Paedophile’

Sappho 19 February 2011

By Henrik R Clausen

In Austria, calling Muhammad a ‘paedophile’ constitutes illegal denigration of “religious teachings”. This is what Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was found guilty of in an Austrian court. Read on for an extensive analysis of the puzzling verdict.

Acquitted and convicted

There is now a conviction against Austrian citizen Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (ESW), who stood trial on a charge of “incitement to hatred” at a series of seminars educating about political Islam and the challenges we face. The case was closed on February 15th 2011 by judge Bettina Neubauer, who gave the following verdict to ESW, who was also convicted of being a “Repeat offender”, in spite of this conviction being her first:

  • Acquitted on the charge of incitement to hatred
  • Convicted for denigration of the teachings of a legally recognized religion.
  • Punishment: 120 day fines for a total of 480 euros.

This verdict deserves analysis and scrutiny.

The original charges

Acquittal first: The charge of incitement to hatred was originally the main point of the case. The defence has countered that charge in two different ways:

First by going through factual details of the lectures, documenting that everything said there was firmly based on Islamic source material, for instance Reliance of the Traveller from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo. The defence even shouldered the cost of an authorized translation of relevant passages into German, so that they might be accepted by the court. The judge took the documentation into the case, and the public prosecutor did not challenge the validity of it.

Second, the defence had recordings from the seminars played in court, demonstrating that they had been held in a peaceful tone, going through the substance of the material taught, letting the audience ask about detail they had not understood immediately.

Playing the recordings made another important point, namely that some of the quotes used by the prosecution as being from Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff were in reality from members of the audience, and that quotes from the lectures had been mixed with out-of-context comments from small-talk in the coffee breaks.

The public prosecutor, who had made no statements or comments since his initial statement in the first hearing, did not challenge this interpretation.

During the first hearing, the defence had made the prosecutor admit that he had not gone through the primary evidence in the case (the audio recordings), but had instead relied on a transcript provided by the journalist from the Austrian magazine NEWS.at, who filed the original police report.

The expected acquittal

After having gone through this material at the first two hearings, the audience of the case had a clear expectation that ESW would be acquitted of the charges and have her name cleared. But at the end of the second hearing, the judge added an unexpected twist to the case:

She inquired of ESW about her comments that the actions of Muhammad would today be considered ‘paedophilia’. While ensuring a nod of approval from the prosecutor, she then extended the charges to also encompass “Denigrating the teachings of a legally recognized religion”.

The defence attorney requested time to work on this additional charge, as he had not prepared defending his client from this point of view.

An inheritance from the Austrian-Hungarian Empire

It might sound odd that the judge can extend the charges in a trial as she sees fit, but that is actually possible under Austrian law. The charge was specifically for denigrating the teachings of a religion recognized by the Austrian state.

This recognition was granted in 1912 through the law Islamgesetz, which had as its primary purpose to integrate Bosnia-Herzegovina more fully into the Empire, and Bosnian soldiers more effectively into the Imperial army. Since Bosnia-Herzegovina was lost to the Empire after World War One, the original purpose of the law was gone. However, it remained on the books, and for that reason Islam and its teachings enjoy special protection under Austrian law.

Understanding ‘paedophilia’ correctly

Having a legal ban on denigrating the teachings of Islam can be problematic, for many unpleasant points are made in the Quran, including those concerning Jews, the position of women, ‘hypocrites’ who call themselves Muslims but refuse to go to war for the Cause of Allah, and not least statements against ‘infidels’, who do not consider Muhammad a prophet or Allah worthy of their devotion.

But in spite of the extensive references made to unpleasant Quranic passages in the lectures held by ESW, this was not the point of the charges.

Instead, they focused on what had earlier earned Susanne Winter a conviction, to wit: That according to modern standards, Muhammad would be considered a paedophile. It was well thought-out by the judge to first confirm from ESW that she had mentioned the subject before extending the charges, and it was this specific point that led to the conviction.

What is paedophilia?

First we need to understand what ‘paedophilia’ actually is. From The American Heritage(r) Stedman’s Medical Dictionary:

“The act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children.”

Paedophilia as a mental state rather than action

It is worth noting that in professional circles, paedophilia is a mental state (being sexually attracted by children), not an actual act (having sexual relations with children). Paedophilia is not punishable in and of itself, although possession and distribution of child pornography is in many countries. Sexual relations with minors, on the other hand, are obviously criminal and punishable.

Another detail was decisive for the result of the case, namely that ‘paedophilia’ has different meanings to the general public as opposed to among specialists. To the general public, a ‘paedophile’ signifies a person who actually engages in sexual activities with minors, that is, child molesters. For good reason, this is what concerns ordinary people, and parents in particular: actual acts that put children at risk. The word is used this way, for example, in this Telegraph report.

Among professionals, however, the word covers the urge to primarily have sexual relations with minors. The urge is what matters, not whether or not that urge has led to actual child molestation.

Judge Neubauer in her verdict pointed out this distinction between paedophilia as a mental attitude as opposed to paedophilia as actual actions, and underscored that in professional circles this label applies to the mental state of having one’s primary sexual attraction directed to prepubescent children.

Mohammad acquitted of paedophilia

On this basis, judge Neubauer found that it was not legally acceptable to apply the label ‘paedophile’ to Muhammad, for two distinct reasons:

  1. Apart from the marriage to Aisha, which was formalized when she was 6 and consummated at the age of 9, Muhammad had many other women, in wedlock, as mistresses, or as war booty. This documents the fact that Muhammad did not have a primary sexual attraction directed towards minors.
  2. The marriage, and thus the sexual relations with Aisha, did not end when she reached puberty, but continued until she was 18 and Muhammad died. This further underscores the fact that Muhammad was not attracted to her primarily due to her being a minor.

Illegal denigration of Muhammad

For this reason, judge Neubauer found that using the label ‘paedophile’ was unreasonable and constituted an illegal denigration of Muhammad, that Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff had therefore made herself guilty of denigrating the teachings of a legally recognized religion, and was thus convicted to pay 120 “day fines” for a total of €480 for her offence.

The fact that the word ‘paedophile’ has a different meaning to non-professionals, and that ESW is not a certified expert in the field, was not assigned any significance in the verdict.

Did Elisabeth actually call Muhammad a ‘paedophile’?

As a matter of fact, no.

What she did do was something different, namely refer to his ongoing sexual relationship to the prepubescent Aisha, who was 9 years old when the relationship began, stating:

If this does not constitute paedophilia, what does?”

She was clearly referring to what Muhammad did, according to Islamic scripture, not to himself as a person. This is in line with common usage of the word ‘paedophilia’, is understandable to just about everyone, and by referring to actual acts of having sex with minors, it is about child molestation, not about Muhammad as a person. It now appears that calling sex with minors ‘paedophilia’ is outside the legal limits in Austria.

Conviction, at any cost?

For those who have followed the case closely, it might appear that the judge has actively sought to convict Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, or that a decision might have been made to get her convicted, no matter the means needed to do so, and at any cost to the system.

The cost just might turn out to be quite significant.

The public prosecutor, since his initial presentation, did not say much during the case, and the charges against ESW were extended at the initiative of the judge.

It is also remarkable that the verdict is based on a possible error in categorizing the sexual preferences of Muhammad as described in the Hadith, rather than on teachings from the Quran, which otherwise is generally considered to constitute the religious teachings of Islam.

Logical consequences

Fortunately law is logical, and thus one can rightfully deduce some consequences from the verdict:

  1. It can constitute a criminal offence to use a label wrongly, even if that usage is in line with how it is applied by the general public.
  2. The judge takes it as proven that Muhammad had a lasting sexual relationship with a minor. Strangely, she considers it an illegal denigration to apply the label ‘paedophilia’ to this behaviour.
  3. As the law is only concerned with “Religious teachings”, rather than “Founders of religion”, “Behaviour of religious persons” or similar things, this verdict must imply that the life and conduct of Muhammad — including his sexual conduct — constitute an integral part of the “Religious teachings” in Islam. This interpretation is in line with Quran 33:21 and fundamentalist readings of Islam.
  4. Under Austrian law, Islam has a remarkable degree of protection from criticism, and this verdict extents this protection to Muhammad, who is now protected from criticism. Other religions, say Buddhism, do not enjoy a similar protection of their teachings or founders.

Since the life of Muhammad, as chronicled in detail in Islamic scripture (Sirat, hadith, and to a lesser degree the Quran), is to be considered an integral part of Islamic teachings, it may become legally problematic to criticize persons, norms or actions justified by his example. That would include the lack of women’s rights in Islam, denigration of Jews and ‘infidels’, incitement to violence and murder of critics and opponents, and other troublesome examples from the hadith.

Denigrating the conduct of Muhammad outlawed?

At the time of Muhammad, child marriages were seemingly an accepted tradition on the Arabian Peninsula, these marriages often being parts of political alliances. This is also the case with the marriage to Aisha, whose father Abu Bakr later became the successor to Muhammad, the first caliph.

Her age (6 at the time of marriage, 9 at the time of its consummation) is documented in a long list of hadith stories, in particular from Bukhari, who according to Islamic tradition is considered flawless in his ability to select which stories about the life and conduct were genuine.

Al-Tabari in vol. 7 page 7 of his 39-volume chronicle mentions that of all the women Muhammad had, only sleeping with Aisha would inspire him to Quranic revelations. Under Austrian legal precedent it would now be punishable to express a negative opinion about this.

That the example of Muhammad is used to justify child marriages even today is a fact that seems to have escaped the attention of the judge. Reports about child brides and their aged husbands now routinely appear in the Western press, but even though we hear these stories over and over, few seem willing to stand up for the rights of these minor girls. Even the sheikhs, the persons learned in Islamic law, do not take action or in any way use their authority to stop child marriages.

That the life and example of Muhammad in its entirety should constitute “Religious teachings”, protected from criticism under Austrian law, is a notion so absurd that it cannot be permitted to stand.

Denigration of Khomeini’s book should be permissible

One might then wonder if the book by Ayatollah Khomeini, Tahrir-ol-vasyleh, which also endorses sexual relations with minors, would as well be protected from criticism under Austrian law.

However, this question can be answered with a solid “No”, as the recognition of Islam in Austria is specific for the Hanafi School, a branch of Sunni Islam. Shia Islam, the tradition to which Khomeini belonged, does not enjoy a similar protection. Thus teachings exclusive to Shia Islam should be free to discuss and speak against.

Filing an appeal is obvious

In sane times, it should be an obviously flowed case for the Austrian state to punish its citizens for speaking out against having sex with minors. However, common sense appears to have been on holiday in this case, which thus far has produced a verdict based on a quite narrow interpretation of a word otherwise commonly used as ESW did, whether that word was correctly applied or not.

Then, regardless if the word ‘paedophilia’ was applied correctly or not, a citizen in a free society should in any case be able to express himself as he sees fit, including having the right to make the occasional mistake, without having to fear being dragged to a court in expensive and exhausting criminal cases opened by the State.

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, who declares herself a feminist engaging in the debate about Islam for the sake of her daughter, for obvious reasons rejects the verdict and the stain on her criminal record it would imply. The verdict was appealed on the spot, so the case will now be brought to an appeal court. In the hearings before this court, we will probably be going through somewhat embarrassing details from the life of Muhammad in order to establish whether or not these can rightfully be considered religious teachings.

The developments in this case are best followed atenglish.savefreespeech.org. This is also where it is possible to support Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff economically. This is urgently needed, for in contrast to the prosecution, which is funded by the state, she has to foot all her expenses personally.

Posted February 19th, 2011 by hrc
This entry was posted in Free Speech. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Elisabeth Was Wrongly Convicted for Something She Never Uttered

  1. Mark Twang says:

    Where in the law of free speech is it implied that I have to “respect” some other guy’s “religious teaching”?

    Does this mean I can’t poke fun at $cientology and its hokey e-meter anymore?

    • James says:

      Only In America are you truly free to say what you want. Whether it be against a religion ,person, place or thing. Islam is slowly inserting its sharia law into these countries who do not fully practice freedom of speech. Thank god in the United States you are a criminal in every aspect if you even think about having sex with a child.

  2. John K says:

    Thanks for this thorough explanation. We are all worried for you and the future of our civilization and freedom of speech.

    The Islamgesetz is not a blanket protection for Islam. In just a quick scan, I noticed this:

    “The teachings of Islam, its institutions and customs to enjoy such protection, so far they are not in conflict with state laws.”

    It would seem to me that there is plenty in conflict with state laws, including sex with minors.

    Even the medical terminology cited does not fully support the court:

    “First we need to understand what ‘paedophilia’ actually is. From The American Heritage(r) Stedman’s Medical Dictionary:”

    “The act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children.”

    So we see that it does include the “act”, not just the fantasy.

    The fact that he also enjoyed sex with adults should not exclude the application of pedophilia as a description of his enjoyment of sex with a child.

  3. Dr.Otto Fischer says:

    the last word is not yet spoken-I hope so for the esteem,respect of austrian justice.

  4. Research says:

    What an extraordinarily bad judgement. The fact, is ‘paedophile’ is *not* a term of denigration. It simply describes the sexual tastes of certain people, and being descriptive it is not offensive to paedophiles, or considered derogatory by them.

    Moreover, Islam’s *own* texts make it clear about this significant aspect of Muhammad’s sexual preferences. To begin with, the 51 year-old man Muhammad pursued the 6 year-old girl Aisha *despite* the protestations of Aisha’s father [my capitals]:

    Bukhari Book 62 #18:
    “Narrated ‘Ursa:
    The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for ‘Aisha’s hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said “BUT I AM YOUR BROTHER.” The Prophet said, “You are my brother in Allah’s religion and His Book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry.”

    Next, Muhammad had to cajole Aisha, a task he performed in this way:

    Book 62, #15:
    Narrated ‘Aisha:
    Allah’s Apostle said (to me), “You have been shown to me twice in (my) dreams. A man was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, ‘This is your wife.’ I uncovered it; and behold, it was you. I said to myself, ‘If this dream is from Allah, He will cause it to come true.’ ”

    Muhammad then married the 6 year-old Aisha
    Book 62, #65:

    “Narrated ‘Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: I have been informed that ‘Aisha remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e. till his death).”

    Keep in mind that the consummation refers to vaginal intercourse. This doesn’t mean that Muhammad didn’t enjoy performing other sexual acts on Aisha before her 9th birthday. For example, “thighing” is a tradition in Islam where the man places his penis between the child’s thighs, and seeks sexual satisfaction that way if vaginal intercourse is not possible. The worthies at Islamic-fatwa.net offer this view of thighing:

    “As for the prophet, thighing his fiancée Aisha when she was six years of age and not able to consummate the relationship due to her small age. That is why the Prophet used to place his male member between her thighs and massage it, as the prophet had control of his male member not like other men.”

    As to other evidence of Muhammad’s preference for *pre-pubescent* girls, there are many more Islamic hadiths, for example:

    Bukhari, Book 62, Number 16:
    Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:
    While we were returning from a Ghazwa (Holy Battle) with the Prophet, I started driving my camel fast, as it was a lazy camel A rider came behind me and pricked my camel with a spear he had with him, and then my camel started running as fast as the best camel you may see. Behold! The rider was the Prophet himself. He said, ‘What makes you in such a hurry?” I replied, I am newly married ” He said, “Did you marry a virgin or a matron? I replied, “A matron.” He said, “WHY DIDN’T YOU MARRY A YOUNG GIRL SO THAT YOU MAY PLAY WITH HER AND SHE WITH YOU?” When we were about to enter (Medina), the Prophet said, “Wait so that you may enter (Medina) at night so that the lady of unkempt hair may comb her hair and the one whose husband has been absent may SHAVE HER PUBIC REGION.”

    Now, a 51 year-old man who pursues a 6 year old *child* for sexual relations – DESPITE the PROTESTS of her father (i.e. the pursuit is *NOT* for some cultural reason) has *by definition* the tastes of a paedophile – regardless of whether he also has sex with older girls. Clearly, Muhammad had a strong taste for little girls, and his taste is further confirmed by his preference for older women to shave their “pubic regions” – i.e. to present as pre-pubescent. Not one member of the public would describe a 51 year-old man pursuing a 6 year-old child in the street for sex as anything other than a paedophile, and the judge’s sophistry in attempting to refute this is disingenuous, and absolutely disgraceful.

    Best of luck with the appeal!

  5. Ravi J says:

    The verdict is most disappointing, shocking because it is unjustified. Elisabeth Sabaditch Wolff was charged with ‘hate speech’ but the honorable judge had frankly admitted that the language used in the Seminars by ESW was not ‘inciting hatred’. This makes it clear that ESW has been opposed to and critical of the Islamic law and practices that seriously affect the freedom and happiness of Muslim women. The Sharia law and the religion of Islam empowers men to enjoy polygamy, to unilateral divorce, child-marriages, wife-beating, veiling, mutilation and even incarceration of women and daughters. All these social evils and sufferings are in everyday practice in Muslim countries. It’s a violation of woman’s personality, denial of her individuality and human rights. For some years now all the most of these violent practices have become common among Muslim homes in the West. Does Austrian law and its Constitution allow such violations in the name of religion?

    Could it be a ‘crime’ to raise the VOICE of protest against the social evils that are freely allowed to spread and strengthen under Western Laws and against Western values? Tolerating such holocaust may possibly endanger the lives of Western mothers and daughters. Elisabeth’s VOICE IS NOT ALONE. VOICE OF FREEDOM is heard and supported by Freedom-loving people in the world.

    I hope justice and reason will prevail soon.

    Bravo ESW.

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  7. T. Nail says:

    this shows how sick this world has become

  8. robert groos says:

    Peter King better pay attention what he says about Islam in March, he could wind up like Geert Wilders and the Austrian Lady, the Austrian was convicted mostly because of fears her government has about Islam and the same seems to be happening in Holland. The attempts by Islam to stifle free speech seems to be working in the west. You’ve seen Muslim in Fort Lauderdale and in England holding signs that read ” To Hell with Freedom” “The Real Holocaust is coming” “Kill the Jews” If we don’t have the guts to stop them, pretty soon your 9 year old girls will become targets of Muslims. All legal under their Sharia law. Brigitte Gabriel will soon provide more information what is really in the Koran. Join Act for America!!

  9. Angela says:

    Just my opinion
    If you or in this case an ancestor are doing something which you believe is right then you just admit you are doing it and try to convince others of its rightness by taking it to court it seems that they are admitting that even they know that this is a wrong way of living

  10. Islam is a man made religion declaring wars on those oppose it in the name of a peaceful Allah.

    Not surprisingly the international community becoming more and more aware of Islam intentions the more the words of the Quran becomes public.

    Islam will fall under its own weight nonetheless, it is happening today across the nations of Islam and those who support it.

    God Bless you Wolff and God Bless The Khoufaar (Infidels).

  11. Mike says:

    They were trying the wrong person. Muhammad, Islam and the Koran should be on trial for denigrating a religion, Judaism.

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  15. Mark Durie says:

    Elizabeth – it is just a detail, but in regard to the age of Aisha, it may be helpful in the appeal to be aware that ages in Islam are calculated by lunar years. Thus 9 lunar years (Aisha’s reported age when she married Muhammad) is in fact 8 years and 9 months, and 18 lunar years (the reported age when Muhammad died) is 17 and a half solar years.
    There is a tradition which says that Muhammad married Aisha about two (lunar) years after coming to Medina. He died just under 10 solar years after coming to Medina. This means that Aisha could not have reached 18 solar years when Muhammad died:even if she had reached 18 lunar years, she was only 17 years old by the Western calendar. So Aisha was still a minor when Muhammad died, by the standards of Austrian law.

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