Mission Europa Netzwerk Karl Martell

Survey of Free Expression Readings

Readings about free expression in Europe (draft for review)

Multiple contributors

February 2006:
The American Versus the European Approach: Offensiveness Matters

(source: http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20060215_teitel.html; No Laughing Matter: The Controversial Danish Cartoons Depicting the Prophet Mohammed, and Their Broader Meaning for Europe’s Public Square By RUTI TEITEL (Ernst Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law at New York Law School, where she also teaches constitutional law and international human rights. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and on the steering committee of Human Rights Watch, Europe, Central Asia.)

First, whereas in America, free speech doctrine is largely libertarian, free speech doctrine in Europe is far more protective of communitarian values – such as preventing social unrest, and promoting societal inclusiveness and anti-discrimination values.

In the United States, rights are framed in a radically individualist fashion — with is a commitment to keeping the public sphere to the greatest extent possible, free of regulation. But unlike the United States Constitution, the European Convention and postwar European Constitutions make references to collective – not individual — goals.

Thus, while it might be obvious, in libertarian America, that the balance should be struck in the cartoonist’s and newspaper’s favor, that is much less obvious in communitarian Europe – where the point of view of the offended audience would be taken far more seriously.

More generally, the European Convention of Human Rights, while protecting the right to “freedom of expression,” art 10(2) recognizes that its exercise and other liberties are limited by justifications “necessary in a democratic society.” These justifications might include the need to protect order or security, but might also include concerns for reputation and other values.

Another Contrast: In Europe, Hate Speech Is Often Illegal

Second, “hate speech” – First-Amendment-protected in America, except in rare cases – is often deemed outright illegal in Europe.

Throughout Europe, there is legislation specifically limiting speech, including speech denying the Holocaust. For example, Germany, France, and Austria, all have such legislation.

Denmark, too, has related anti-hate legislation: Its law penalizes expressions that threaten, deride or degrade on the grounds of race, color, national or ethnic origin, belief or sexual orientation. Indeed, in the Jersild case, the Danish government attempted to enforce these laws against a television journalist.

Though the European Court of Human Rights drew the line on criminal prosecution on these grounds, and found there had been an attempt to counterbalance the racist views, the Court recognized the legitimate countervailing values at stake. And what’s more, so did the Danish government.

While freedoms of speech and of religion are protected in Europe, there is also always a limit. One might see the arrangements as ‘balanced rights.” Dating back to the abuses of World War II, all the postwar conventions, such as the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, expressly limit advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

Anti-religious hate speech, is particular, is illegal in Europe. Blasphemy is still prohibited in many countries in Europe – whereas in the U.S., it is plainly First- Amendment-protected.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made clear quite recently that it approves of some regulation of anti-religious speech, based on offensiveness.

In 1994, in Otto Preminger v. Austria, the ECHR upheld Austria’s censorship of a satirical film that mocked Christian religious beliefs. Given the high percentage of Catholics in Tyrol, the European Court deferred to the national authorities “to ensure religious peace in that region” so that people shouldn’t “feel the object of attacks on their religious beliefs in an unwarranted and offensive manner.”

There are also many instances, in Europe, of cases limiting speech because of anti-Semitism.

In Faurisson v. France, for example, a Holocaust denier challenged his conviction under French law – claiming that it violated his freedom of expression rights under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, Article 19(2). But the Human Rights Committee concluded that the Covenant had not been violated.

In so doing, the Committee considered the context in which the expression was made — noting that the French government saw “the denial of the existence of the Holocaust as the principal vehicle for anti-semitism.” And for this reason, the Committee justified the prosecution as “necessary” within the balanced rights scheme of the ICCPR. Article 19(3).

In 1994, the German Constitutional Court reached a similar holding. At a meeting in Munich, “revisionist historian” David Irving sought to question the Holocaust. He argued that, to ban his remarks would be contrary to Article 5(1) of the German Basic Law, which provides for freedom of expression. But the court held that the ban on the assembly — and the ensuing restriction on Irving — were compatible with the German Constitution and, indeed, authorized under certain provisions of the German Criminal Code specifically setting forth the offense of denying the Holocaust.


December 13, 2007: “European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on combating the rise of extremism in Europe

Source: Gates of Vienna blog, December 19, 2007

…… The latest bureaucratic initiative on this issue emerged from Strasbourg a few days ago. Entitled the “European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on combating the rise of extremism in Europe”, it lays out a series of steps designed to enforce acceptable Multicultural groupthink across all the “provinces” of the EU.

The full text is worth reading, so I’ve included the entire document at the bottom of this post. I’ll just touch on the highlights here.

The European Parliament has taken on the task of combating “racism, intolerance, incitement to religious hatred, exclusion, [and] xenophobia”. It asserts that “these extremist ideologies are incompatible with the principles of liberty [and] democracy”. It declares that its mission includes “combating the spread of xenophobic attitudes and extremist political movements”.

It states that “neo-Nazi, paramilitary and other extremisms are directing their violent attacks against a wide variety of vulnerable population groups, including migrants, the Roma, homosexuals, anti-racist activists”.
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The EU Parliament actually mentions Islamic fundamentalism, giving a passing nod to the real danger now facing Europe. But we know from experience that its targets will inevitably be the patriots and supporters of traditional European culture. To the EU, controlling Islamic fundamentalism means restraining European natives to keep them from “provoking” Islam.

Most ominously, the document proposes “withdrawing public funding from political parties that do not condemn violence and terrorism and do not respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law”. Since most European parties cannot legally function without state funding, this effectively allows an unaccountable supranational entity to dictate which political parties are allowed to exist within what used to be the sovereign nations of Europe.

The document calls on the European Commission and the European Council to effect “appropriate political and legal responses, especially at the preventive stage with reference to young people’s education and public information”. In other words, indoctrination and thought control in the public schools are to be the order of the day.

It wants “the EU institutions to give a clear mandate to the Fundamental Rights Agency to investigate the structures of extremist groups in order to assess whether some of them coordinate their work within their groups across the European Union or at regional level”…..

European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on combating the rise of extremism in Europe
(emphasis added by Gates of Vienna)

The European Parliament,

  • having regard to its previous resolutions on racism, xenophobia and extremism, particularly that of 20 February 1997 on racism, xenophobia and the extreme right(1) , that of 15 June 2006 on the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe(2) and its position of 29 November 2007 on the proposal for a Council Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law(3),
  • having regard to its resolution of 27 January 2005 on the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and racism(4),
  • having regard to Articles 6, 7 and 29 of the EU Treaty and Article 13 of the EC Treaty, which commit the EU and its Member States to upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms and which provide it with the means to fight racism, xenophobia and discrimination, to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the Charter of Fundamental Rights) and to the Council Regulation (EC) No 168/2007 of 15 February 2007 establishing the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency(5) (the Fundamental Rights Agency),
  • having regard to the international human rights instruments which prohibit discrimination based on racial and ethnic origin, notably the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), both signed by all the Member States and a large number of other States,
  • having regard to European Union activities to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia, in particular the two anti-discrimination directives (Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment of persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(6) and Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(7) ), as well as to the above-mentioned Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia,
  • having regard to Resolution 1344 of 29 September 2003 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the threat posed to democracy by extremist parties and movements in Europe,
  • having regard to the Report on Racism and Xenophobia in the Member States of the EU published in 2007 by the Fundamental Rights Agency,
  • having regard to the report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) entitled ‘Challenges and Responses to Hate-Motivated Incidents in the OSCE Region’ of October 2006,
  • having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,



seriously concerned at the resurgence in Europe of extremist movements and paramilitary groups and parties, some of which even have governmental responsibilities, which base their ideology, political discourse, practices and conduct on discrimination, including racism, intolerance, incitement to religious hatred, exclusion, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Gypsyism, homophobia, misogyny and ultra-nationalism, and whereas several European countries have recently experienced hatred, violent events and killings,



seriously alarmed at the Islamic fundamentalist recruitment and violent propaganda campaign with terrorist attacks within the European Union, based on the hatred of European values and anti-semitism,



whereas these extremist ideologies are incompatible with the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law as set out in Article 6 of the EU Treaty, which reflect the values of diversity and equality on which the European Union is based,



whereas no Member State is immune from the intrinsic threats that extremism poses to democracy and, therefore combating the spread of xenophobic attitudes and extremist political movements is a European challenge that requires a joint and coordinated approach,



whereas some political parties and movements, including those currently in power in a number of countries or represented at local, national or European level, have deliberately placed intolerance and/or violence based on race, ethnic origin, nationality, religion and sexual orientation at the heart of their agenda,



whereas neo-Nazi, paramilitary and other extremisms are directing their violent attacks against a wide variety of vulnerable population groups, including migrants, the Roma, homosexuals, anti-racist activists and the homeless,



whereas the existence of public and easily accessible websites which incite to hatred raises serious concerns as to how to counteract the problem without violating freedom of expression,



Strongly condemns all racist and hate attacks, and calls on all authorities to do everything in their power to punish those responsible; expresses its solidarity with all victims of such attacks and their families;



Points out that fighting extremism must not have any negative effects on the permanent obligation to respect fundamental rights and fundamental legal principles, including freedom of expression and association, as enshrined in Article 6 of the EU Treaty;



Deplores the fact that some mainstream parties have seen fit to give credibility and acceptance to extremist parties by entering into coalition agreements, thereby sacrificing their moral integrity for the sake of short-term political gain and expediency;



Notes that the increasing number of extremist organisations, which often contain neo-fascist elements, can exacerbate fears in society that can lead to manifestations of racism in a broad range of areas, including employment, housing, education, health, policing, access to goods and services and the media;



Urges the Commission and Council to lead the search for appropriate political and legal responses, especially at the preventive stage with reference to young people’s education and public information, teaching against totalitarianism and disseminating the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms in order to keep alive the memory of European history; calls upon the Member States to develop policies of education for democratic citizenship based on citizens’ rights and responsibilities;



Urges the Commission to monitor the full application of the existing legislation designed to prohibit incitement to political and religious violence, racism and xenophobia; calls on Member States to monitor the strict implementation and constant improvement of anti-racist laws, information and awareness-raising campaigns in the media and educational establishments;



Urges all democratic political forces, regardless of ideology, to avoid any support for extremist parties of a racist or xenophobic character, whether explicit or implicit, and hence also any alliance whatsoever with their elected representatives;



Warns, looking ahead to the 2009 European elections, of the possibility that extremist parties may secure representation in the European Parliament and calls on the political groups to take the appropriate measures in order to ensure that a democratic institution is not used as a platform for financing and echoing anti-democratic messages;



Calls on the EU institutions to give a clear mandate to the Fundamental Rights Agency to investigate the structures of extremist groups in order to assess whether some of them coordinate their work within their groups across the European Union or at regional level;



Reiterates its belief that public personalities should refrain from statements that encourage or incite to hatred or stigmatisation of groups of people on the basis of their race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or nationality; believes that if public personalities incite to hatred, the fact that they have a high public profile should be considered an aggravating circumstance; condemns, in particular, the worrying prevalence of anti-semitism;



Calls on the media to inform the public about the dangers of hate speech and to help promote the principles and values of democracy, equality and tolerance;



Requests all Member States to at least provide for the possibility — after a court ruling — of withdrawing public funding from political parties that do not condemn violence and terrorism and do not respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law as set out in the ECHR and the Charter of Fundamental Rights; and calls on those that already have this possibility to do so without delay; also calls on the Commission to ensure that no EU funding is available to media which are used as a platform to widely promote racist, xenophobic and homophobic ideas;



Calls on the Commission to support NGOs and civil society organisations devoted to promoting democratic values, human dignity, solidarity, social inclusion, inter-cultural dialogue and social awareness of the dangers of radicalisation and violent extremism, and which are devoted to fighting all forms of discrimination;



Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the Council of Europe.



December 20, 2007: United Nations Anti-Defamation Resolution of December 2007

Islamic Bloc Scores ‘Defamation of Religions’ Resolution at UN
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com International Editor
December 20, 2007

(CNSNews.com) – Alongside a resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly this week calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, the world body passed a raft of other human rights-related motions. One of them, introduced by Islamic nations, focuses on combating the “defamation of religions.”……

The motion on defamation of religions has been a priority for the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) since 9/11. It took on new impetus following a Danish newspaper’s publication in 2005 of cartoons satirizing Mohammed.

Introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, it passed on Tuesday by a 108-51 margin, with 25 abstentions. As with many of the other votes, the U.S. lined up with democracies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere against developing nations, including repressive regimes.

Although the resolution refers to defamation of “religions,” Islam is the only religion named in the text, which also takes a swipe at counter-terrorism security measures.

It expresses alarm about “discrimination” and “laws that stigmatize groups of people belonging to certain religions and faiths under a variety of pretexts relating to security and illegal immigration.”

Muslim minorities are subjected to “ethnic and religious profiling … in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001,” it says.

The resolution decries “the negative projection of Islam in the media” and voices “deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.”

OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu earlier this month addressed an international conference on “Islamophobia,” held in Turkey, and told the gathering that freedom of expression was being used as a cover in the West to promote anti-Islam sentiment.

The OIC soon will release its first-ever annual report on “Islamophobia.”


March 28, 2008:
IHEU and NSS sound the alarm on freedom of expression at the UN

Roy W Brown
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In March 28, 2008 With the support of their allies including China, Russia and Cuba (none well-known for their defence of human rights) the Islamic States succeeded in forcing through an amendment to a resolution on Freedom of Expression that has turned the entire concept on its head. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression will now be required to report on the “abuse” of this most cherished freedom by anyone who, for example, dares speak out against Sharia laws that require women to be stoned to death for adultery or young men to be hanged for being gay, or against the marriage of girls as young as nine, as in Iran.

[Two anniversaries this year – both 60th birthdays] – The Human Rights Council died yesterday in Geneva, and with it the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary we were actually celebrating this year. …. The moral leadership of the UN system has moved from the States who created the UN in the aftermath of the Second World War, committed to the concepts of equality, individual freedom and the rule of law, to the Islamic States, whose allegiance is to a narrow, medieval worldview defined exclusively in terms of man’s duties towards Allah, and to their fellow-travellers, the States who see their future economic and political interests as being best served by their alliances with the Islamic States…. At first reading the amendment to the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression might seem reasonable. It requires the Special Rapporteur:

“To report on instances in which the abuse of the right of freedom of expression constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination …”

For Canada, who had fought long and hard as main sponsor of this resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, this was too much. The internationally agreed limits to Freedom of Expression are detailed in article 19 of the legally binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and are already referred to in the preamble to the resolution. If abuse of freedom of expression infringed anyone’s freedom of religion, for example, it would fall within the scope of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion. To add it here was unnecessary duplication, and “Requesting the Special Rapporteur to report on abuses of [this right] would turn the mandate on its head. Instead of promoting freedom of expression the Special Rapporteur would be policing its exercise … If this amendment is adopted, Canada will withdraw its sponsorship from the main resolution.”

Canada’s position was echoed by several delegations including India, who objected to the change of focus from protecting to limiting freedom of expression. The European Union, the United Kingdom (speaking for Australia and the United States), India, Brazil, Bolivia, Guatemala and Switzerland all withdrew their sponsorship of the main resolution when the amendment was passed. In total, more than 20 of the original 53 co-sponsors of the resolution withdrew their support.

On the vote, the amendment was adopted by 27 votes to 15 against, with three abstentions.
The Sri Lankan delegate explained clearly his reasons for supporting the amendment:
“.. if we regulate certain things ‘minimally’ we may be able to prevent them from being enacted violently on the streets of our towns and cities.”

In other words: Don’t exercise your right to freedom of expression because your opponents may become violent. For the first time in the 60 year history of UN Human Rights bodies, a fundamental human right has been limited simply because of the possible violent reaction by the enemies of human rights. ….

Freedom of expression is that right which – uniquely – enables us to expose, communicate and condemn abuse of all our other rights. Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press we give the green light to tyranny and make it impossible to expose corruption, incompetence, injustice and oppression.

But however important freedom of expression may be for us who live in the West, its overwhelming importance for those who live under the tyranny of Islamic law was highlighted by a courageous group of 21 NGOs from the Islamic States who issued a statement yesterday appealing to delegations to oppose the amendment. See http://www.article19.org/pdfs/press/petition-hrc.pdf

….. I used to wonder what States who felt it necessary to kill people because they change their religion thought they were doing in the Human Rights Council. Now I know.

The wafer-thin sham of an international consensus on the promotion and protection of human rights has finally been exposed for what it was – a sham. The fragmentation of human rights now appears inevitable. The proposed Islamic Charter on Human Rights (read “Duties towards Allah”) will certainly go ahead, as will the creation of a parallel Islamic Council on Human Rights. But the OIC will nevertheless continue to attend and dominate the UN Human Rights Council, thereby ensuring its continuing emasculation and descent into total irrelevance….

April 15, 2008: OIC AT UNHRC Demands Prosecution of Netherlands MP

Source: (IHEU)

At the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, 15 April, states belonging to the Organisation of Islamic Conference demanded that Holland prosecute one of its MPs for “defamation of religion”. The very next day, 16 April 2008, Keith Porteous Wood raised the alarm about the threats these nations are posing to freedom of expression in a speech in Brussels attended by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Keith Porteous Wood was speaking as an International representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and executive director of the (UK) National Secular Society at a colloquium organised jointly by the European Commission and the European Humanist Federation.

A group of OIC states has succeeded in forcing through an amendment to a resolution on the mandate for the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, effectively turning the entire concept on its head. The Rapporteur will now be required to report on the “abuse” of this most cherished freedom. The amendment was passed by 27 votes to 15, the OIC states being supported by China, Russia and Cuba.

Canada, India, and a number of European states spoke out against the change of focus from protecting to limiting freedom of expression. More than 20 of the original 53 co-sponsors of the resolution withdrew their support.

The amendment was passed despite a heart-rending plea not to support it by a courageous group of around twenty NGOs, mainly from Islamic states. Following that, there are now moves to limit NGOs’ interventions to only those whose Governments permit them to speak.

The head of steam building up in many Islamic states for worldwide defamation legislation is huge. The Danish cartoon “crisis” which was generated outside Denmark well after the original publication and claimed lives was just an hors d’oeuvres of what can be expected in future. As the world saw towards the end of 2007, agreeing to some children’s request to name a teddy bear “Muhammed” can lead to calls for a death sentence.

…. another huge problem, regional and – even more worrying, ideological – variants of the Universal Declaration. Let me just say that there is just one ideological variant, and that is championed by the OIC, called the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. It is effectively subject to Shariah and is not compatible with the Universal Declaration. Yet I am convinced the aim is to elevate it to the same status, at least in Islamic countries.

Those most desperately in need of Human Rights protection are already those least likely to receive it, and there seem few grounds for optimism about an improvement.

The views I am expressing are shared by my colleague from IHEU, Roy Brown, who deserves much credit for his tireless work in the chamber in Geneva. We have been making this proposition in the public arena for months and no one has yet even tried to suggest we are wrong. I only wish we were. But even if we are only 50% right – this still raises some questions that are very hard to answer. I’ll suggest a few….

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Why are so few people aware of the acute – if not chronic – problems with the UNHRC and can human rights be the casualty when diplomats’ focus is on keeping the peace and promoting dialogue? Should there not be a recognition that in such matters as Human Rights, compromise is not always possible?

• If the UNHRC is found to be unable to fulfil its role, is there a point past which those of like mind would be better to walk away?

• If they do this, what is the next best option, and who should take the lead in bringing this about?

• Do these problems presage similar difficulties for other international organisations, such as the UN itself, the Council of Europe and even the European Parliament?

• And finally, given these problems, what can best be done to promote Universal Human Rights, in the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, worldwide?

On freedom of expression, I urge European leaders to be wary of those affirming their support for freedom of expression, “provided it is used responsibly”. The freedom to say that which is neither challenging nor shocking is no freedom at all. No concessions made on freedom of expression will ever be enough. The daily reality of life in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia where religion has achieved political power show that many religious movements will be satisfied with nothing less than the silencing of those who disagree with religious dogma.

Our leaders should be much less yielding to demands, including from the Catholic Church, over freedom of expression. No concessions made on freedom of expression will ever be enough. They should realise that new defamation of religion laws will lead to extremists escaping criticism and to the suppression of human rights campaigners and commentators. Freedom of expression underpins our democracy and our civilisation; it is too precious to barter.

Wiki on “Hate Speech”
(Usual Wikipedia Caveats apply, but a convenient starting point):

“Where such laws exist they are limited by the constitutional rights to freedom of expression. For example, the German constitution is more restrictive, guaranteeing ‘freedom of voicing one’s opinion’ and elsewhere restricts its misuse against the public peace. The German Criminal Code specifically forbids inciting hatred against ethnic groups, and revisionism, as in France under the Gayssot Act, is prohibited on those grounds.”


  • In the United Kingdom, incitement to racial hatred is an offence under the Public Order Act 1986 with a maximum sentence of up to seven years imprisonment. Since the start of the 21st century the UK has also become one of the most progressive countries in the world in its attitudes towards homophobic crime. In 2003 the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations was introduced, followed by the 2007 Equality Act which outlaws discrimination in the provision of goods and services based on sexual orientation.
  • In Germany, Volksverhetzung (incitement of hatred against a minority under certain conditions) is a punishable offense under Section 130 of the Strafgesetzbuch (Germany’s criminal code) and can lead to up to five years imprisonment. Volksverhetzung is punishable in Germany even if committed abroad and even if committed by non-German citizens, if only the incitement of hatred takes effect within German territory, e.g. the seditious sentiment was expressed in German writ or speech and made accessible in Germany (German criminal code’s Principle of Ubiquity, Section 9 §1 Alt. 3 and 4 of the Strafgesetzbuch).
  • In Ireland, the right to free speech is guaranteed under the Constitution (Article 40.6.1.i). However, the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, proscribes words or behaviours which are “threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred” against “a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation.”[1]
  • In Canada, advocating genocide or inciting hatred against any ‘identifiable group’ is an indictable offense under the Criminal Code of Canada with maximum terms of two to fourteen years. An ‘identifiable group’ is defined as ‘any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.’ It makes exceptions for cases of statements of truth, and subjects of public debate and religious doctrine. The landmark judicial decision on the constitutionality of this law was R. v. Keegstra (1990).
  • In Iceland, the hate speech law is not confined to inciting hatred, as one can see from Article 233 a. in the Icelandic Criminal Code, but includes simply expressing such hatred publicly:

“Anyone who in a ridiculing, slanderous, insulting, threatening or any other manner publicly assaults a person or a group of people on the basis of their nationality, skin colour, race, religion or sexual orientation, shall be fined or jailed for up to 2 years.” (The word “assault” in this context does not refer to physical violence, only to expressions of hatred.)


  • France has made hate speech laws restricting the open expression of anti-Semitism, and ethnic bias in public, but it implies to guidelines in news journalism (i.e. newspapers and state-owned Television) in how to report (or be told not to discuss) those matters without creating social tension.[citation needed

  • Sweden prohibits hate speech, hets mot folkgrupp, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or express disrespect for an ethnic group or similar group regarding their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation.[3]
  • Finland prohibits hate speech, kiihotus kansanryhmää vastaan/hets mot folkgrupp, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or insult a national, racial, ethnic or religious group or a similar group.[4]
  • Denmark prohibits hate speech, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten, ridicule or hold in contempt a group due to race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation.[5]
  • Norway prohibits hate speech, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or ridicule someone or that incite hatred, persecution or contempt for someone due to their skin colour, ethnic origin, homosexual life style or orientation or, religion or philosophy of life.[6]
  • Serbia – Serbian constitution guaranties freedom of speech, but declares that it may be restricted by law to protect rights and respectability of others. Because of inter ethnic conflicts during last decade of 20th century, Serbian authorities are very rigorous about ethnic, racial and religion based hate speech. It is processed as “Provoking ethnic, racial and religion based animosity and intolerance” criminal act, and punished with six months to ten years of imprisonment.[citation needed][7]
  • The Council of Europe has worked intensively on this issue. While Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights does not prohibit criminal laws against revisionism such as denial or minimization of genocides or crimes against humanity, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe went further and recommended to member governments to combat hate speech under its Recommendation R (97) 20. The Council of Europe also created the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (www.coe.int/ecri ) which has produced country reports and several general policy recommendations, for instance against anti-Semitism and intolerance against Muslims

Wiki on ”Islamophobia”

(Usual Wiki Caveats apply, but a useful starting point – ***BIAS ALERT***- this Wiki article accepts Islamophobia as a valid concept and presents any criticism of Islam as “obviously” irrational)

Professor Anne Sophie Roald writes that steps were taken toward official acceptance of the term in January 2001 at the “Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance”, where Islamophobia was recognized as a form of intolerance alongside Xenophobia and Antisemitism.[5]

In May 2002 the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), a European Union watchdog, released a report entitled “Summary report on Islamophobia in the EU after 11 September 2001”, which described an increase in Islamophobia-related incidents in European member states post-9/11.[8]

Novelist Salman Rushdie and others signed a manifesto entitled Together facing the new totalitarianism in March 2006 which denounced Islamophobia as “a wretched concept.”[12] Some opponents argue that Islamophobia is justified.[9]

In 1996, the Runnymede Trust established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, chaired by Professor Gordon Conway, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex. Their report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, was launched in November 1997 by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. In this report, Islamophobia was defined by the Trust as “an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination.”[17] An early documented use of the word in the United States was by Insight magazine in 1991, used to describe Russian activities in Afghanistan.[17] Other claims of early use include usage by Iranian clerics in 1979,[18] or its use in 1921 by a painter of Etienne Dinet.[19]


The Runnymede report identified eight perceptions related to Islamophobia

[editorial comment on this wiki post from Counterjihad Vienna 2008 compiler – the author of this Wiki piece presents the Runnymede definitions of Islamophobia with the assumption that they do NOT accurately represent Islam, whereas more knowledgeable scholars would find this list simply accurate, reflecting Islam’s own stated intent and behavior, rather than an “Islamophobic” projection on Islam from its critics, at least through items 1-6. Now back to your regular Wiki post…]:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>1. <!–[endif]–>Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>2. <!–[endif]–>It is seen as separate and “other.” It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>3. <!–[endif]–>It is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>4. <!–[endif]–>It is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a clash of civilizations.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>5. <!–[endif]–>It is seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>6. <!–[endif]–>Criticisms made of “the West” by Muslims are rejected out of hand.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>7. <!–[endif]–>Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>8. <!–[endif]–>Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural and normal.[22]

The above perceptions are seen as closed views on Islam. These are contrasted, in the report, with open views on Islam which, while founded on respect for Islam, permits legitimate disagreement, dialogue and critique.[23] According to Benn and Jawad, The Runnymede Trust notes that anti-Muslim discourse is increasingly seen as respectable, providing examples on how hostility towards Islam and Muslims is accepted as normal, even among those who may actively challenge other prevelant forms of discrimination.[24]

…. Brown and Miles write that “many of the stereotypes and misinformation that contribute to the articulation of Islamophobia are rooted in a particular perception of Islam”, such as the notion that Islam promotes terrorism; especially prevalent after the September 11, 2001 attacks….. Benn and Jawad write that hostility towards Islam and Muslims are “closely linked to media portrayals of Islam as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist.”[24] Egorova and Tudor cite European researchers in suggesting that expressions used in the media such as “Islamic terrorism”, “Islamic bombs” and “violent Islam” have resulted in a negative perception of Islam.[32]

There have been several initiatives, based upon the sixty recommendations listed in the Runnymede Trust’s report, aimed at increase Muslim participation in media and politics. Soon after the release of the Runnymede report, the Muslim Council of Britain was formed to serve as an umbrella body aiming to “represent Muslims in the public sphere, to lobby government and other institutions.” The “Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism” (FAIR) was also established, designed to monitor coverage in the media and establish dialogue with media organizations. Following the attacks of September 11, the Islam Awareness Week and the “Best of British Islam Festival” were introduced to improve community relations and raise awareness about Islam.[33]

Steven Vertovec writes that the purported growth in Islamophobia may be associated with increased Muslim presence in society and successes.[35] He suggests a circular model, where increased hostility towards Islam and Muslims results in governmental countermeasures such as institutional guidelines and changes to legislation, which itself may fuel further Islamophobia due to increased accommodation for Muslims in public life. Vertovec concludes: “As the public sphere shifts to provide a more prominent place for Muslims, Islamophobic tendencies may amplify.”[35]

According to Abduljalil Sajid, one of the members of the Runnymede Trust’s Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, “Islamophobias” have existed in varying strains throughout history, with each version possessing its own distinct features as well as similarities or adaptations from others.[37] An observatory report on Islamophobia by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference similarly states that Islamophobia has existed for as long as Islam itself.[38]

The EUMC has since released a number of publications related to Islamophobia, including “The Fight against Antisemitism and Islamophobia: Bringing Communities together (European Round Tables Meetings)” (2003) and “Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia” (2006).[46]

British writer and academic Kenan Malik believes that the charge of Islamophobia confuses discrimination against Muslims with criticism of Islam, and that it is used to silence critics and Muslim reformers. He writes that the extent to which Muslims are more vulnerable to social exclusion and attacks than other groups is frequently and allows for a culture of victimhood, where all failings are attributed to Islamophobia. Islamophobia is not a form of racism, in his view, because Islam is a belief system.[10] This analysis is criticized by Inayat Bunglawala from the Muslim Council of Britain and Abdul Wahid from the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.[55] Bunglawala writes that Malik’s argument is limited to overt acts of violence against Muslims, without recognizing less overt forms of prejudice or discrimination. By ignoring non-violent examples of Islamophobia, Malik’s commentary “makes a mockery of victims of prejudice by pretending they have not been discriminated against,” according to Bunglawala.[55]

In the wake of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, a group of 12 writers signed a statement in the French weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in March 2006, warning against the use of the term Islamophobia to prevent criticism of “Islamic totalitarianism.” The novelist Salman Rushdie was among these signatories.[12] These views are shared by Dutch law professor Afshin Ellian[56]. Critics cite the case of British journalist Polly Toynbee, who was nominated in May 2003 for the title of “Most Islamophobic Media Personality of the Year” at the ‘Annual Islamophobia Awards’ overseen by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, for claiming that Islam “… imposes harsh regimes that deny the most basic human rights.”[57]

Johann Hari of The Independent has criticized the use of the term by organizations like Islamophobia Watch, arguing that liberal Muslims interested in reform are left unsupported because people fear being accused of Islamophobia.[58] Writing in the New Humanist, philosopher Piers Benn suggests that people who fear the rise of Islamophobia foster an environment “not intellectually or morally healthy”, to the point that what he calls “Islamophobia-phobia” can undermine “critical scrutiny of Islam as somehow impolite, or ignorant of the religion’s true nature.”[59] The New Criterion editor Roger Kimball argues that the word “Islamophobia” is a misnomer. “A phobia describes an irrational fear, and it is axiomatic that fearing the effects of radical Islam is not irrational, but on the contrary very well-founded indeed, so that if you want to speak of a legitimate phobia… …we should speak instead of Islamophobia-phobia, the fear of and revulsion towards Islamophobia.”[60]

In 2006 the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) set up an observatory on Islamophobia which will monitor and document activities perceived as Islamophobic around the world.[61]

50,000 people signed a petition urging French President Jacques Chirac to “consider Islamophobia as a new form of racism, punishable by law. The statement reads that the publishing of insulting cartoons of Muhammad by the French press hurt and offended the feelings of French- Muslims.”[64]

In Tower Hamlets, a densely populated area in London with a large Muslim community, a crime reporting scheme called “Islamophobia – Don’t Suffer in Silence” has been set up which police hope will raise awareness of Islamophobia and help them to understand the extent of the alleged problem.[65]

Following the July 7 bombings, the British government set up a number of initiatives aimed at combating alleged Islamophobia, including the “National Forum against extremism and Islamophobia”.[69] There was also plans by the British government to ban incitement to “religious hatred”, however, this failed to get through the House of Commons.[70][71]

In January 2006 the Dutch parliament voted in favor of a proposal to ban the burqa in public, leading to accusations of Islamophobia.[97] Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang bloc has said his party is “Islamophobic.” He said: “Yes, we are afraid of Islam. The Islamisation of Europe is a frightening thing.”[98]

Laws Supporting Secularism

France, which has a strong secular tradition separating church from State,[93] was accused of Islamophobia when the law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools was passed, which bans the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in public schools. The policy extends to Muslim headscarves, large Christian crosses, Jewish skullcaps, and other visible signs of religion, although the display of small[94][95] religious symbols (such as the Star of David, crosses, and Hand of Fatimas) is permitted.


In Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg has proposed regulations that require citizenship applicants from the member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to answer questions about their attitudes on homosexuality, domestic violence and other religious issues.[86]

First Amendment in U.S. “Corrected” by SPJ to Prevent New Thought-Crime of Islamophobia

On Oct. 6 at its National Convention in Seattle, the Society of Professional Journalists passed a resolution urging members and fellow journalists to take steps against racial profiling in their coverage of the war on terrorism and to reaffirm their commitment to:

— Use language that is informative and not inflammatory;

— Portray Muslims, Arabs and Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans in the richness of their diverse experiences;

— Seek truth through a variety of voices and perspectives that help audiences understand the complexities of the events in Pennsylvania, New York City and Washington, D.C.

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Visual images

— Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds when photographing Americans mourning those lost in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

— Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds when photographing rescue and other public service workers and military personnel.

— Do not represent Arab Americans and Muslims as monolithic groups. Avoid conveying the impression that all Arab Americans and Muslims wear traditional clothing.

— Use photos and features to demystify veils, turbans and other cultural articles and customs.


— Seek out and include Arabs and Arab Americans, Muslims, South Asians and men and women of Middle Eastern descent in all stories about the war, not just those about Arab and Muslim communities or racial profiling.

— Cover the victims of harassment, murder and other hate crimes as thoroughly as you cover the victims of overt terrorist attacks.

— Make an extra effort to include olive-complexioned and darker men and women, Sikhs, Muslims and devout religious people of all types in arts, business, society columns and all other news and feature coverage, not just stories about the crisis.

— Seek out experts on military strategies, public safety, diplomacy, economics and other pertinent topics who run the spectrum of race, class, gender and geography.

— When writing about terrorism, remember to include white supremacist, radical anti-abortionists and other groups with a history of such activity.

— Do not imply that kneeling on the floor praying, listening to Arabic music or reciting from the Quran are peculiar activities.

— When describing Islam, keep in mind there are large populations of Muslims around the world, including in Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, India and the United States. Distinguish between various Muslim states; do not lump them together as in constructions such as “the fury of the Muslim world.”

— Avoid using word combinations such as “Islamic terrorist” or “Muslim extremist” that are misleading because they link whole religions to criminal activity. Be specific: Alternate choices, depending on context, include “Al Qaeda terrorists” or, to describe the broad range of groups involved in Islamic politics, “political Islamists.” Do not use religious characterizations as shorthand when geographic, political, socioeconomic or other distinctions might be more accurate.

— Avoid using terms such as “jihad” unless you are certain of their precise meaning and include the context when they are used in quotations. The basic meaning of “jihad” is to exert oneself for the good of Islam and to better oneself.

— Consult the Library of Congress guide for transliteration of Arabic names and Muslim or Arab words to the Roman alphabet. Use spellings preferred by the American Muslim Council, including “Muhammad,” “Quran,” and “Makkah ,” not “Mecca.”

— Regularly seek out a variety of perspectives for your opinion pieces. Check your coverage against the five Maynard Institute for Journalism Education fault lines of race and ethnicity, class, geography, gender and generation.

— Ask men and women from within targeted communities to review your coverage and make suggestions.

Laws Affecting Website Hosting (needs Expansion)

From Bruce Bawer (author of While Europe Slept, get it at Amazon if you don’t own it yet, a must-read) about the censorship of the vital Human Rights Service in Norway(H/T DhimmiWatch):

February 21, 2008 (2:13 P.M., CET): It is reported today that Imbera, a Norwegian firm that hosts the website of Human Rights Service, removed three items from that site without notice because two of them were illustrated with Kurt Westergaard’s famous Muhammed cartoon from Jyllands-Posten and one was illustrated with a Muhammed drawing by Lars Vilks. Imbera claimed to be acting in accordance with the EU directive on electronic commerce, and law professor Jon Bing says that Imbera had not only a right but a legal obligation to do what it did. But Nils Øy of the Association of Norwegian Editors disagrees, while Per Edgar Kokkvold, head of the Norwegian Press Association, calls Imbera’s action “unacceptable,” noting that if Internet hosting services can do this to HRS they can do it to newspapers, too.

The good news is that HRS has already received an offer from Linpro AS, which hosts Jyllands-Posten, to take over its site for three years free of charge. (”Freedom of speech is important to us,” writes Linpro head Per Andreas Buer.) The bad news is that Imbera’s action is just one more sign of the ongoing erosion of free expression in Europe. As HRS observes today on its site, Norwegians are now living in a “threat culture….The government, bishops, and others don’t see that they have capitulated to this threat culture, but prefer to define it as a dialogue. But where the threats begin, the dialogue stops.”

Go to the HRS website – as you’ll see, it appears that the 3 motoon illustrations are back up, so maybe they’ve already migrated to the Linpro AS server. Linpro deserves a big thumbs up for doing the right thing.

If you’re hosting your website in Europe, know the threat doctrine that the European Union will employ to remove your site – thanks to Bawer for bringing this to everyone’s attention again: “Directive 2000/31/ED of the European Parliament and of the council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the

Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce)”.

Charter for “Cities against Islamization”

By means of this charter the participating organizations lay the foundations of the connection of cities named “Cities against islamization.”


“Cities against islamization” concludes that since the renaissance the West in general and Europe in particular have renounced all religious dogma’s and replaced the standards resulting from them by standards and legal rules that are based on a multitude of sources like ancient classics, the Jewish-Christian values, humanism, the ideas of Enlightenment, nationalism, liberalism etc.

As a result of this evolution our civilization is now characterized by a respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms. Our civilization is moreover based on values like the separation of church and state, democracy, freedom of speech, equality of men and women etc.

On the other hand at the beginning of the 21st century West-European cities are confronted with substantial Islamic minorities, which are not in the least assimilated and which concentrate in constantly expanding ghettos. This is the result of a too lax immigration policy conducted by different authorities.

“Cities against islamization” concludes that the Islam is more of a social order rather than a religion. This social order is based on the Sharia (the Islamic religious laws, based on Koran and Hadith) and the Uma (the Islamic religious community), which is at odds with the entirety of values and standards, which are part of our European society.

“Cities against islamization” also concludes that at least a part of these Muslims prefers the Islamic divine laws to our civil laws. Within the Muslim population there is moreover an inclination towards radicalization which is expressed in a growing hostility to our western civilization and the values underlying it.

Mosques function like catalysts for the islamization of entire neighbourhoods, since they, as central authorities, emphasize a strict observance of Islam. In doing so they restrain the further integration of Muslim minorities.

Starting points

“Cities against Islamization” resists the multicultural ideology which results in the fact that West-European Muslims publicly live in accordance with their own values. That leads to the institutionalisation of this religion.

“Cities against islamization” resists the institutionalisation of Islam, the official recognition of Islam, the subsidizing of Islamic associations, Koran schools, imams etc. The institutionalisation of Islam will lead to the creation of an Islamic socio-political group which will slow down the integration of the Muslim community.

“Cities against Islamization” is opposed to concessions of the policy makers towards Islam which has for result that the Western values and standards are more and more suppressed in favour of Islamic customs, traditions and values, frequently not being compatible with our Western standards and way of life.

“Cities against Islamization” believes that the individual freedom of religion must be assured at all times – also when Islam is concerned. However freedom of religion cannot be an alibi for generalising or introducing undemocratic or discriminating customs or acts. “Cities Against Islamization” resists the introduction of Sharia law as a replacement for the European rules of law.


Islamization is not a local problem. It’s s a phenomenon taking place in almost all Western European countries and cities. The fast demographic increase of the Islamic population in the West threatens to result in an Islamic majority in a lot of Western European cities within a few decades.

The participating organisations engage themselves to coordinate their initiatives in the fight against the islamization, to organise demonstrations together and to mutually exchange information, with fighting the islamization of the Western European cities in a coordinated and better informed manner as a goal.

Reporters Without Borders Recommendations for Free Expression on the Internet

Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE make six recommendations to ensure freedom of expression on the Internet.

This declaration by Reporters Without Borders and the representative of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) on Freedom of the Media aims to deal with the main issues facing countries seeking to regulate online activity. Should the Web be filtered? Can online publications be forced to register with the authorities? What should the responsibility of service providers (ISPs) be? How far does a national jurisdiction extend?

Reporters Without Borders thinks the six recommendations go beyond Europe and concern every country. It hopes they will provoke discussion in the run-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Full text of the Declaration :

1. Any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in the right to freedom of expression as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2. In a democratic and open society it is up to the citizens to decide what they wish to access and view on the Internet. Filtering or rating of online content by governments is unacceptable. Filters should only be installed by Internet users themselves. Any policy of filtering, be it at a national or local level, conflicts with the principle of free flow of information.

3. Any requirement to register websites with governmental authorities is not acceptable. Unlike licensing scarce resources such as broadcasting frequencies, an abundant infrastructure like the Internet does not justify official assignment of licenses. On the contrary, mandatory registration of online publications might stifle the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information on the Internet.

4. A technical service provider must not be held responsible for the mere conduit or hosting of content unless the hosting provider refuses to obey a court ruling. A decision on whether a website is legal or illegal can only be taken by a judge, not by a service provider. Such proceedings should guarantee transparency, accountability and the right to appeal.

5. All Internet content should be subject to the legislation of the country of its origin (“upload rule”) and not to the legislation of the country where it is downloaded.

6. The Internet combines various types of media, and new publishing tools such as blogging are developing. Internet writers and online journalists should be legally protected under the basic principle of the right to freedom of expression and the complementary rights of privacy and protection of sources.

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