Europe is a big continent , with lots going on in different parts of it, but I’ll be quite interested to see how these two trends might get reconciled:
Ireland’s blasphemy referendum is a small step towards creating a 21st century constitution, prime minister Leo Varadkar says.
The anticipated result, removing the term from the state’s official statement of values, marks the latest sign of Ireland’s decades-long social liberalisation from a deeply-Catholic and conservative society to an increasingly secular one.
Varadkar said the change was approved by around 70 per cent of the electorate during Friday’s vote…
Removing the reference to blasphemy was backed by a Catholic Church which has sustained severe reputational damage from decades of clerical sex abuse.
Nobody has been prosecuted for the offence in Ireland since 1855, in connection with an alleged case of Bible-burning.
Blasphemy was defined as publishing or uttering something “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion”.
Anybody found guilty could face a 25,000 euro ($A40,283) fine. [emphasis added]
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled a woman convicted by an Austrian court of calling the Prophet Mohammed a paedophile did not have her freedom of speech rights infringed.
The woman, named only as Mrs. S, 47, from Vienna, was said to have held two seminars in which she discussed the marriage between the Prophet Mohammad and a six-year old girl, Aisha.
According to scripture the marriage was consumated when Aisha was just nine years old, leading Mrs S. to say to her class Mohammad ‘liked to do it with children’.
She also reportedly said ‘… A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?’
Mrs S. was later convicted in February 2011 by the Vienna Regional Criminal Court for disparaging religious doctrines and ordered her to pay a fine of 480 euros plus legal fees…
In a statement on Thursday the ECHR said: ‘The Court found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant’s statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.’
‘It held that by considering the impugned statements as going beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate, and by classifying them as an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace, the domestic courts put forward relevant and sufficient reasons.’ [emphasis added]