Civilization on trial 141

The Dutch political leader Geert Wilders is on trial in Amsterdam for saying something The Authorities don’t like. As was done in the good old days of the Papal and Spanish Inquisitions. It’s an old belief in Europe: Truth is what the powerful say it is, and that’s that.

Wilders said that the Koran was as evil a book as Mein Kampf. It is. But he might go to prison for saying so.

At least the Men in Black Robes have stopped burning people at the stake for daring to express an unauthorized opinion or pointing out something that is plain to see but against their preferred illusions.

The trial of Geert Wilders is a hugely important historical event. It is really Europe that is on trial. Will Europe abide by the values of its own Enlightenment and uphold free speech, endorse the objective search for truth, and confirm its commitment to individual liberty, or will it submit to the primitive force of Islam? We wait to see.

Another such trial is being held in Vienna. Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is charged with “inciting hatred against a religious group” and “defamation of religion” in a lecture she gave in 2009 titled the “Islamization of Europe.” If convicted, she could be sentenced to three years in prison.

This report is from Hudson New York:

Having spent most of her life in Muslim-majority countries, [Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff]  has had much time to get to know Muslims as individuals, and to experience contemporary Islamic culture. She has lived in Kuwait; in Iran, as a child, at the time of the Islamic revolution, and, during the 9/11 attacks, in Morocco.

Her stories are undoubtedly disturbing: two of her non-Muslim friends were attacked for breaking the Ramadan fast – one, a Coptic Christian, was assaulted for licking stamps at a post office; the other, for chewing gum. On another occasion, apparently, when Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff sat in her apartment watching the 9/11 unfold on television, and her landlord burst in exclaiming that “the Jews did it,” she asked him to leave.

Such events, she says, with the 9/11 attacks as a catalyst, made her want “to learn more.” She began by researching Islam, sharia, and Islamism; and later became a critic of, and activist against, “Islamization.”

Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff currently represents Pax Europa in Austria, and has represented it at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. … [Pax Europa] focuses specifically on the growth of sharia law in Europe, and the erosion in Europe of free speech in relation to Islam.

According to Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff, the organization is “non-partisan, not political, [and] does not except any membership from people who are radical, either Left-wing or Right-wing.”

Resisting the encroachment of sharia in the West and not being political? Is she, or the organization, being ingenuous or disingenuous?

She herself, we think, is neither.

She describes her own political outlook as “classic conservative libertarian.”

Like ourselves (only, wanting to be accurate, and at the risk of being pedantic, we prefer to say we’re libertarian conservatives; ie. conservatives who value liberty, rather than libertarians adhering to some traditional type).

Having lived, by choice, in Arab and Muslim-majority countries for much of her adult life, it seems clear that she is …  not motivated by “racism” or “Islamophbia” – the usual accusations leveled at anyone criticizing Islam, sharia, or Islamism.

Although it may seem more practical to focus solely on Austria, she raises an important point: What happens in one European Union member state affects the others.

Sharia in one EU state might plausibly be used as a precedent in lawfare, and will certainly be used to promote the idea that Islamic law can happily exist side by side with national, secular law, no matter what the reality of the situation may be.

“It is outrageous,” Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff says, “that the EU would accept sharia law in Great Britain; since Britain is a member of the EU, it [sharia law] is basically now in force in Europe.” Sharia courts in the UK, however, are not the only signs of Islamic law in Europe. It is increasingly present in various forms throughout the EU, as Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff sees it. In Austria, “sharia is all over the place in a more or less visible way.” She continues:

“Every time an animal is slaughtered halal, it is the implementation of sharia. Every time you have young [Muslim] girls prevented [by their parents, because of their Islamic faith] from swimming together with their [non-Muslim] peers in school you have the imposition of sharia.

[Sharia is bad] for everybody – for Muslims, for non-Muslims, for atheists. It doesn’t matter where, who and how, sharia must never take hold in Western society. ..”

Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff says she is “baffled” that in democratic, Western nation states, she and others should find themselves being prosecuted for criticizing political Islam.

The case … was instigated by the Left-wing magazine, NEWS, a glossy weekly which sent a young female journalist to “infiltrate” the meeting, according to Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff. NEWS later approached the authorities to press for a prosecution. Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff only learned that she was being prosecuted after reading about it in the Austrian press. The official charges from the department of the Viennese state attorney arrived later on.

She says, with a sense of mission, that she will not be silenced: “Even if I am found guilty, I will not accept the verdict. It will go up to the European Court.” …

Without much optimism, we wish her  good luck with that.

She is bravely standing for a supremely important principle.

“This is not Elisabeth being prosecuted. I am just a proxy. What is burdening me is the burden of history. I am part of history now. I am doing this for millions and millions of people in the Western world … ”

Yes. She’s right. It’s not only Europe that’s on trial with her and Geert Wilders, it’s our civilization as a whole.