Concern as Islamic authorities welcome Court of Human Rights’ blasphemy ruling

The welcome given by Islamic authorities to a recent European Court of Human Rights’ judgement on blasphemy underscores the need for the ruling to be appealed. That’s according to Grégor Puppinck, PhD, of the European Centre for Law and Justice, an international, Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe and worldwide.

In E. S. v. Austria, the Strasbourg Court validated the conviction of an Austrian lecturer for “defaming” Muhammad by comparing his marriage with 9-year-old Aisha to “paedophilia”. According to the European Court, these statements sought to demonstrate in a “malicious” way that Muhammad is not a “worthy subject of worship” and thus constituted a “malicious violation of the spirit of tolerance, which was one of the bases of a democratic society”. The ruling was handed down as Ireland removed the reference to blasphemy from its Constitution.

The prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the highest authority of Sunni Islam, and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the decision.

However, Mr Puppinck said the decision allows Islamic authorities “to justify their own repression of freedom of expression in religious matters.”

An application for appeal of the ruling has been lodged and on March 19, the Court must decide whether it agrees to refer the case to the Grand Chamber of the Court for a new judgment.