Court finds City Council member guilty of insulting religion
Halla-aho acquitted of incitement against ethnic group
September 9, 2009
Jussi Halla-aho, an independent member of the Helsinki City Council elected to the council on the True Finns ticket, plans to appeal Tuesday's decision by the Helsinki District Court, which convicted him of violating the sanctity of religion.
The court fined him EUR 330.
"The indictment is wrong. Violating the sanctity of religion requires an intent to hurt", he explains.
Halla-aho says that he did not intend to hurt anyone.
Soon after the sentence was passed, Halla-aho commented on the decision on an Internet message board. At the same time he 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.
The prosecution in the case is also considering lodging an appeal.
Already on Tuesday Kalske criticised the notion that Halla-aho had not sought to defame an ethnic group. He noted that contrary to the matter of religious defamation, the law on defaming ethnic groups does not state that there has to be intent.
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Related Topics: Lawfare in Europe
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