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Defaming Prophet Muhammad not free expression, European court rules

The ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) comes after an Austrian national defamed Prophet Muhammad’s marriage in her seminars held in 2009.

Defaming the Prophet Muhammad “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace” and thus exceeds the permissible limits of freedom of expression, ruled the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday, upholding a lower court decision.

The decision by a seven-judge panel came after an Austrian national identified as Mrs. S. held two seminars in 2009, entitled “Basic Information on Islam,” in which she defamed Prophet Muhammad’s marriage.

According to a statement released by the court on Thursday, the Vienna Regional Criminal Court in February 2011 convicted Mrs. S. for disparaging religious doctrines.

She was fined approximately $547 and the costs of the proceedings.

“Mrs. S. appealed but the Vienna Court of Appeal upheld the decision in December 2011, confirming, in essence, the lower court’s findings. A request for the renewal of the proceedings was dismissed by the Supreme Court on 11 December 2013,” it said.