Free Speech Victory makes Germany's Lawfare Score 1:1
by Andrew E. Harrod, PhD, JD, Esq. • Jul 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm
A recent Legal Project article authored by me concerned a German court's fining (pending appeal) of Michael Mannheimer for his condemnation of Islam as an authoritarian and aggressive belief system. However, on a more positive note, as reported again by the conservative German website Politically Incorrect (PI), another German court, on June 26, 2012, in the city of Darmstadt, rejected a call to prohibit a book decried by a German Muslim in a civil complaint as an assault upon his freedom of religion.
The story begins with Zahid Khan and his 2009 book Die Verbrechen des Propheten Muhammad or, as the title of the English edition reads, The Criminal Acts of Prophet Muhammad. Khan has excerpted this self-published work along with other writings by him on his website www.khanverlag.de, while the full book in German and English is available for download worldwide on Amazon.com. In the German edition, Khan reveals that his birthplace was Lahore, Pakistan, but makes the vague reference that "at the age of 12 years God gave me the mandate to leave my country, my religion, and my tradition." Khan states that he has lived in Europe for the last 34 years and has become a German citizen with a family.
Most of Khan's book, which completely lacks bibliographical references, concerns claimed meetings in the "spiritual world" with such varied individuals as Muhammad, Lucifer, and even "God." In the book, Khan claims to have "seen God," whose "love pours itself like rain into my heart" and justifies Khan's "mission" to spread the "burning love of God." Khan also contends that he has "written with the deepest wish of Prophet Muhammad, who has lived for 1400 years under the most difficult conditions in the spiritual world." Amidst discussions of Muhammad's various lusts, hatreds, and crimes, Khan describes a man who once "behaved more like a dictator," but "received the possibility to confess what went wrong in Islam and in his own life." In response to Khan's inquiries, Muhammad claims direct responsibility for "fanatical Islamic extremism" and also denied that the Koran was holy. Instead, Muhammad explained that he introduced "many of his own ideas" into the Koran in order to control often "extremist" contemporaries, all the while ignoring heavenly pleas for merciful laws.
Khan, like Mannheimer, dismisses as a "hope and delusion" the European desires for a "peaceful solution" to the problem of Islamic immigrant integration. Beyond Europe, Khan quotes Lucifer wanting "to destroy the world in the last days with the help of the Muslims in an atomic war." While Khan proclaims the "astonishing truth" that all religious scriptures have suffered satanic corruption, Khan sees in Islam the "most dangerous religion that became a victim of Satan."
Not surprisingly, German Muslims are not happy with Khan's message, especially with respect to his claim of "telling Muslims what is true and false in the Koran." As reported by German television channel Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), in a story excerpted on Youtube and linked by the PI webpage on Khan, he and his family now live under police protection as a result of radical Muslim death threats.
ZDF also reports that one Muslim, Stefan Salim Nagi, has sought legally to prohibit Die Verbrechen des Propheten Muhammad. Nagi describes himself in an October 28, 2011 internet posting as German-born and complains of harm by Khan's book to Nagi's "inviolable (unverletzlich)" freedom of religion "anchored in basic rights (grundrechtlich verankert)." Nagi's civil complaint, a copy of which Khan emailed to the Legal Project, claimed that Khan's book "injured the feeling of honor of the complainant and of Muslims living in Germany." The complaint described Khan's "repeatedly made expressions against Islam and its prophets" in writings and speeches as a "great provocation for the Muslim complainant and an insult to his religious feelings." In addition to the book ban, the complaint also demanded that Khan refrain in the future from calling Muhammad a "criminal", the Koran "not holy", and Islam "violent."
As shown in this Youtube clip, like Khan, Nagi similarly claims visitation by Muhammad in a dream, during which he commanded the organization of a Muslim protest before the German parliament (Bundestag) in Berlin to demand a law prohibiting "insults" against Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam. This speech restriction, similar to Holocaust-denial laws in Germany, would carry a minimum three-year imprisonment. Nagi also organized a demonstration on November 4, 2011, before the local court in Seligenstadt in which Nagi initially introduced his civil complaint, drawing ultimately a mere 40 protesters.
In the end, ZDF reported that the Darmstadt Landgericht (district court) rejected Nagi's complaint, although Nagi in the ZDF report and in a further Youtube video announced an intention to appeal. As the Echo (subscription required) reported, the court, after indicating to Nagi before trial that he had little chance for success, saw in Khan's book no injury of Nagi's personal rights because he was merely one Muslim among millions discussed by Khan. Thankfully for the cause of free speech, the Darmstadt judges refused to use courts for evaluations of Islam's various facets, to say nothing of competing claims of prophecy and spiritual encounters between Khan and Nagi.
Khan's case, however, raises the question of why Michael Mannheimer faces a possible fine for his own speech. Why is Mannheimer's denunciation of Islam any worse than similar views on the part of Khan, especially considering his assertion of actual satanic influences upon Islam? Do German authorities simply consider Mannheimer more of a threat while dismissing Khan with his rambling, 214-page farrago as an unbalanced marginal figure? At least with Khan's verdict, Mannheimer and other free citizens around the world have cause for hope in the future.
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