ECHR Ruling on Insulting Prophet is Old & Shared Without Context

Sonal Gupta
·3-min read

An image of a panel of judges of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has been shared with the claim that the court passed a verdict “on Thursday” stating that “insulting Islam's Prophet Mohammad will be a punishable offence and will not be counted under ‘freedom of expression.’”

However, the verdict, which has been presented in the image without context, was passed by the ECHR in 2018, and not recently, in a case against an Austrian woman who had alleged a violation of her ‘freedom of expression’ when she was fined by the Domestic Courts for calling the Prophet a “paedophile.”

CLAIM

The image was shared by a Facebook page, ‘QNS 24x7’ on 6 November, with the caption: “The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) passed the verdict on Thursday that insulting Islam's Prophet Mohammed will be punishable offence and will not be counted under 'freedom of expression'.”

The image had garnered over 6,600 likes and 1,600 shares at the time of writing this article.

You can view an archived version <a href="https://archive.is/PNQn5" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
You can view an archived version here.

The image was shared with the same claim by several users on Facebook.

You can view an archived version <a href="https://archive.is/NKDnE" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
You can view an archived version here.
You can view an archived version <a href="https://archive.is/OdBIJ" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
You can view an archived version here.

A user also shared the statement with the hashtag ‘Boycott French Products,’ which had started trending after certain Muslim-majority countries called for a boycott of France.

You can view an archived version <a href="https://archive.is/IeBfP" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
You can view an archived version here.

The Quint also received a query regarding the same on its WhatsApp helpline.

Also Read: Old Video from Canada Viral as Muslim Woman Assaulted in France

WHAT WE FOUND OUT

With a simple keyword search we found that the words had been lifted off a site called ‘Milli Chronicle,’ which had published the news regarding ECHR’s verdict in October 2018.

According to UK’s DailyMail, the ECHR had ruled in October 2018 that the freedom of speech rights of an Austrian woman were not infringed when she was convicted by domestic courts for calling Prophet Mohammed a ‘paedophile.’

We also found the ruling on ECHR’s official website, which states the applicant’s statements exceeded ‘the permissible limits of freedom of expression.’

“Moreover, the applicant was wrong to assume that improper attacks on religious groups had to be tolerated even if they were based on untrue facts. On the contrary, the Court has held that statements which are based on (manifestly) untrue facts do not enjoy the protection of Article 10.”

It also held that the fine imposed by the lower court was not ‘ disproportionate.’

The Atlantic and ForeignPolicy.com had also reported that the verdict had been controversial at the time.

Regarding the image used in the viral posts, we found that it was captured by a Reuters photographer in 2015 and shows Judges of the European Court of Human Rights hearing a different case.

Evidently, ECHR’s ruling in 2018 over a case of an Austrian woman insulting Prophet Mohammed has been revived as a recent one without the full context.

Also Read: No, This Video of Muslims Offering Prayers in France Isn’t Recent

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