Defaming the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) exceeds the permissible limits of freedom of expression, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.
The decision by a seven-judge panel ruled that such defamation “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace.”
The ruling 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 to Aisha (ra).
The EHCR upheld an earlier decision by a lower court to deny her appeal.
The court held “that by considering the impugned statements as going beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate and classifying them as an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam, which could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace, the domestic courts put forward relevant and sufficient reasons.”
Several prominent Islamophobes have argued that insulting the Prophet is a matter of free speech which should be tolerated in a democratic society.
However, Muslim groups have long insisted that such speech puts social harmony at risk and therefore should not be tolerated.