Recently, I wrote a column on how the West has used hate crime laws to create a Western version of blasphemy prosecutions in the Middle East. Finland has now added to the list of countries charging people with blasphemy. Helsinki city councilman, Jussi Halla-aho was charged with blasphemy and incitement of an ethnic-group for publishing on his blog that Islam’s prophet was a pedophile. Mohammad is often accused of being a pedophile due to his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha, which was consummated when she was 9.
Jussi Halla-aho is a Finnish Slavic linguist, blogger and a politician who is a critic of immigration and multiculturalism.
Section 10 of chapter 17 of the Finnish penal code makes blasphemy a crime. Undeterred by the attack on free speech, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Jorme Kalske charged:
“Halla-aho had uploaded to the Internet and submitted writings to the general public, in which Islam and its sacred institutions were combined with pedophilia, and in which was also presented the robbery of pedestrians and the looting of tax revenue was a certain national group or a specific genetic characteristic.”
Regardless of how obnoxious some may find his view, Halla-aho has a right to speak his mind about religion. The West is sacrificing free speech on the alter of free exercise. The latter is increasingly defined as being free from insult or challenge.
Notably, in these abusive cases, the defendant is not allowed to argue truth as in a defamation case. Instead, the focus is whether the content of his views attacks religious views and would incite hatred — a ridiculous standard from a Western standpoint. Finland will have to decide whether it will stand for free speech principles or join such countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia in prosecuting those who espouse unpopular or unpolitic thoughts.
For the story, click here.