Europe’s top human rights court has ruled that comments about Mohammed having pedophilic tendencies are not covered by the right to freedom of expression, agreeing with the assessment of courts in Austria that the remarks constituted “an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace.”
A seven-judge European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) panel in Strasbourg concluded that the Austrian courts had “carefully balanced the applicant’s right to freedom of expression with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected, and to have religious peace preserved in Austrian society.”
Thursday’s decision came nine years after Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian political scientist and activist, held a seminar in Vienna where among things she criticized the treatment of women in Islam. The topic of Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha, the youngest of his dozen wives and concubines, came up.
According to Islamic texts, the 7th century Arabian who founded Islam was betrothed to Aisha when she was six, and the marriage was consummated when she was nine.
The court record quotes Sabaditsch-Wolff as having said that Mohammed “liked to do it with children,” (other translations of the German comment render it “had a thing for little girls”) and saying, “A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”