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European Court Rules Against Woman Convicted in Austria for ‘Disparaging’ Islam

European Court for Human Rights
ATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty

BERLIN (AP) — The European Court of Human Rights says an Austrian woman’s conviction for calling the prophet of Islam a paedophile didn’t breach her freedom of speech.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled Thursday that Austrian courts had “carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected.”

The woman in her late 40s, identified only as E.S., claimed during two public seminars in 2009 that the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to a young girl was akin to “pedophilia.” A Vienna court convicted her in 2011 of disparaging religious doctrines, ordering her to pay a 480-euro ($547) fine, plus costs. The ruling was later upheld by an Austrian appeals court.

The ECHR said the Austrian court’s decision “served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace.”

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