From Helsingin Sanomat:
Jussi Halla-aho, an independent member of the Helsinki City Council elected to the council on the True Finns ticket, ... [was] convicted ... of violating the sanctity of religion ... [and] fined ... EUR 330.
Soon after the sentence was passed, Halla-aho ... repeated the view that got him fined. "In my opinion Islam really is a religion that sanctifies paedophilia, and the Prophet Muhammad is a paedophile", Halla-aho wrote. He wrote similar ideas in his blog in June last year. He said that he reached his conclusion as the result of a logical chain of thought, noting that the Prophet had a spouse who was underage.
In the view of the court Halla-aho's arguments were not sincere, even though they appeared logical. The court also stated that logic has no significance when religious questions are involved. According to the court, Halla-aho had no intention of holding a proper discussion on negative aspects of the Islamic faith, but to desecrate the sacred values of the religion under the guise of freedom of speech. According to the court, the statement has a tendency to feed religious intolerance.
Halla-aho was also charged over another statement he made in the same blog article, according to which robbing passers-by and scrounging on taxpayers' money might be a genetic characteristic of Somalis. In the view of Deputy Prosecutor-General Jorma Kalske, this constituted incitement against an ethnic group, but the court acquitted Halla-aho on the charge. The court found that Halla-aho was simply trying to use satire to criticise authorities for not reacting to a newspaper editorial, which suggested that killing people was a "national, and possibly downright genetic special characteristic" of the Finnish people. The court concluded that Halla-aho was seeking to indicate that immigrants can enjoy better protection from officials than the native population....
Halla-aho says he plans to appeal; the prosecution says it's considering appealing as well. This site claims to reprint an English translation of the post based on which Halla-aho was convicted; this site, which appears to be Halla-Aho's, is said to contain the Finnish original; what is said to be an interview an English translation of an interview with Halla-aho is here.
If anyone can point me to an English translation of the court's opinion, I'd be very much obliged; likewise, if any Finnish speakers can confirm the accuracy of the relevant parts of the translation, or provide their own, that would be excellent. Many thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer. No word on whether the councilman's supporters chanted "Halla-aho Akbar" in his defense.
UPDATE: Just to make it clear, I strongly oppose laws suppressing such speech, for the reasons that I've discussed often and at length in other contexts (such as my commentary on the Mohammed cartoons, and on calls for an emerging international law norm of suppressing anti-religious speech). They would surely be unconstitutional in the U.S., and I think that other democracies shouldn't enact them, either.
Related Posts (on one page):
- Fine for Displaying Israeli Flag in a Spontaneous Counterdemonstration at an Anti-Israel Demonstration:
- Criticizing Islam and Mohammed Is a Crime in Finland:
- Now There's a Law That's Sure To Reduce Ethnic and Religious Tensions: