Finnish Politician Fined for Blaspheming

Jussi Kristian Halla-aho is a blogger and politician in Finland.

On his blog, he had made comments about Islam that some found offensive (here’s the original posting):

Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile and islam revers pedophilia as a religion. Islam is a religion of pedophilia. Pedophilia is Allah’s will.

Are these statements illegal? They certainly insult muslim’s religious feelings. Let’s approach the issue logically:

As a 50 year-old man Muhammad was engaged to six or seven year old Aisha. Their marriage was “consummated” when Aisha was nine years old. It is possible to think that they were living in another age and Muhammad’s deeds must not be judged according to today’s standards, but as we have learned during the last few years, schoolbooks from the 50’s were racist when they spoke about ”negroes” (even if ”negro” was not a racist term at the time by anybody’s standards), it’s equally justified to call a child rapist who lived 1400 years ago a child rapist .´

What has to be done so that the bolded statements were not true? You must insist that

a) … Quran is not literally true (i.e Muhammad did not have sexual relations with a nine year old girl). This will not do, since according to Islamic doctrine and muslims’ opinion Quran is a literal word of Allah. Consummation and Aisha’s age cannot be denied without insulting muslims.

b) …Muhammad’s actions were not always acceptable. This will not do either, since according to muslims (and Tampere district court) criticizing Muhammad is the same as criticizing Allah and therefore blasphemy. The penalty is death. Muslim’s believe that Muhammad’s actions were the will of Allah. Because Muhammad had sexual relations with a child, that was Allah’s will as well.

As we see, all the argumentative ways to disprove the bolded statements have been theologically exhausted. The fact that Muhammad was a pedophile and Allah supported pedophilia can only be denied either by denying the literal truthfulness of Quran or Muhammad’s status as a messenger of Allah whose actions are according to the will of Allah.

Therefore I repeat my claim:

Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile and islam revers pedophilia as a religion. Islam is a religion of pedophilia. Pedophilia is Allah’s will.

This is not some random slur against Muslims. It’s an argument to be defended or refuted.

Still, Halla-aho was taken to court over this.

And he lost.

He now has to pay a fine of 330 euros.

It’s ridiculous. It’s been said before, but blasphemy is a victimless crime, and this “offense” is hardly blasphemy. It’s a critique of what the Quran says. To fine him for this sends a signal that criticism or analysis of religious works is off-limits. No books or people or fictional beings should be revered like that.

Halla-aho plans to appeal, but he’s got a long road ahead of him.

It’s always surprising to hear a European country taking such drastic measures. I almost expect it in America, but I thought Europeans were better than us when it came to matters of religion and free speech.

(Thanks to Riku for the link!)

  • http://www.dwasifar.com dwasifar

    Hemant, note that the linked article ends by calling Halla-aho’s remarks “hate speech.”

    This is why I’m against hate speech laws in general. They’re a sword that turns in your hand.

  • Solitas

    From a Norwegian perspective, I understand how this can happen.

    If it had been said about Jesus, the Judeo-Christian god, the apostles etc, no-one would have raised an eyebrow.
    Islam, though, is treated with fear and reverence by politicians and the courts in the Scandinavian countries, and we must, we have to, respect them.

    Because, you know, they’ll burn our embassies if we don’t. *rolls eyes*

    I must say, there’s a lot of violence for a non-violent religion…

  • Josh BA

    As far as I can tell, Free Speech is a pretty alien concept to most of Europe. In fact, from the Europeans I have talked to, the American concept of Free Speech—that someone can say something that offends you without legal repercussion and that it is important that they be allowed to do so—is nearly repugnant to them.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    How can a reasoned argument – agree with it or not, be blasphemous? Not least he never says that any particular follower of Islam is a paedophile, just that their prophet performed acts that fit into the definition of paedophilia.

    I would hope to hear from Muslims that they reject paedophilia, and state that their prophet was wrong to have sex with a pre-teen girl. But I doubt it.

  • Staceyjw

    Europe may be ahead of us in some ways, but not this one.

  • TJ

    The courts couldn’t care less about whether or not a particular statement is true, they only care about whether or not anyone’s delicate feelings were hurt.

    Though, to be fair, hurt feelings can be quite traumatic. I’ve heard it can take seconds, even minutes to get over it.

  • Ron in Houston

    Geez, thank goodness there’s no fines for blasphemy in the US. A lot of folks I know would be a whole lot poorer.

  • sc0tt

    What has to be done so that the bolded statements were not true? You must insist that

    a) … Quran is not literally true
    b) …Muhammad’s actions were not always acceptable.

    I would expect a modern religious Muslem to attempt to make the case that 9-year old girls were not considered children at the time; or at least that this particular girl had entered adulthood.

    The concept that pedophelia is acceptable is a little too much to believe, and the concept that females are simply property no matter what their age or marital status is a little too controversial.

  • Riksa

    What the coverage fails to tell is that Halla-aho has a history of speech against immigrants and even racism plus a grudge with the national prosecutor as well. The blog entry was directed at the dual moralism of prosecutor Mika Illman, and its purpose was to test whether one can speak as strongly against minorities as one can against Finnish people. He explicitly said that “this next bit is a bait for Illman” and then went on to say the things he said. In other words, the whole slur was written in the context of a dare to the prosecutor. I don’t agree with Halla-aho’s extreme views, but I must say that he got some fine publicity with 330 euros.

  • Riksa

    Oh, and what’s more, I think the Finnish law may have been enforced correctly. There is still a blasphemy law on books, that makes it illegal to publicly and with an intent to insult speak against that, which a religious community sees as holy. As far as I know, the last person to be convicted of blasphemy in Finland was Hannu Salama because of his book Juhannustanssit. He was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment, but was pardoned by president Urho Kekkonen. Guess what year this happened? 1968. Ridiculous.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I would expect a modern religious Muslem to attempt to make the case that 9-year old girls were not considered children at the time; or at least that this particular girl had entered adulthood.

    Which is irrelevant, of course. Ancient opinions on what is and isn’t acceptable are not applicable and are overridden by modern ideas. But I get your point.

  • Riksa

    Sc0tt:

    Yes, but a prominent Finnish imam named Chebab Khodr has publicly said that he thinks 13 is a good age for a girl to be married, that he has personally married girls that Finnish law sees as underage, and that sexual relations with a minor is a punishable offence in arab countries, but only outside marriage. Granted, 13 is a long way from 9, but still grossly unacceptable by Western standards.

  • Calla

    This was taken out of the wider context. Halla-aho has a pretty bad reputation in Finland, and, in my opinion, for a good reason. The True Finns is a far-right party that regularly speaks against immigrants, homosexuals, etc. And in the past, Halla-aho has said, among other things, that he wishes that all women supporting the green party get raped by immigrants. So a very fun attitude.

    But yeah, that quote by Voltaire applies here. “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  • Riksa

    What Calla said. That is the my mood, at least. The guy is a jackass, but our judicial system really dropped the ball on this one. Hopefully the decision gets destroyed in the supreme court. This judge argued that “the truth value of religious concepts cannot be equated to the truth value of scientific concepts” and that “any religion cannot be criticised by logical reasoning”. They felt that religion was outside the realm of reasoning, which, in itself, is a lot worse example of blasphemy than what Halla-aho said.

  • sc0tt

    Riksa I really appreciate your perspective on this issue. Kiitos.

    My point was only that the politician’s blog post didn’t make his case very well.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    I think that Aisha’s story is not in the quran. It’s in the hadiths. I could be wrong.

  • Clippo

    Of course Christians all know that sex with children is wrong because the Bible clearly says so. Doesn’t it? Oh, wait, never mind.

  • Woody Tanaka

    “It’s always surprising to hear a European country taking such drastic measures. I almost expect it in America, but I thought Europeans were better than us when it came to matters of religion and free speech.”

    I’m surprised that you’re surprised. The USA has its faults, but when it comes to respecting free speech rights, it is outstanding. From the wrongheaded libel laws in the UK, to the various states which make it a crime to make certain statements regarding the Holocaust, to matters like this fine here, the general European approach to free speech issues is suspect, at best.

  • Valdyr

    This guy is an asshole… who should be free to say whatever stupid shit he wants.

  • http://www.americanthinker.com Jon

    I almost expect it in America, but I thought Europeans were better than us when it came to matters of religion and free speech.

    America is generally heralded for its freedom of speech policies. I am curious why one would think of Europe as superior to America with regards to free speech.

    Additionally, since the right to free speech is important, we have to be careful how we limit and allow speech. Clearly, Hemant’s expressed intention is show respect for others beliefs and to have others show respect for atheism. If that is the case, than should ‘hate’ speech not be engaged in or allowed? Should we mandate that speech is respectful of others beliefs? If we want to allow this Finnish politician to criticize Islam, true or not, then we must be willing to let others criticize Atheism, true or not.

  • Infinite Monkey

    Which is irrelevant, of course. Ancient opinions on what is and isn’t acceptable are not applicable and are overridden by modern ideas. But I get your point.

    I can’t say I agree with that. Thomas Jefferson was a great man. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson spoke out against slavery.

    The worst you could pin on him is hypocracy, but, since it wasn’t illegal at the time, that would be a bit of a hard sell. However, people try to point that the fact that he owned slaves and try to use that as a point that he was somewhat evil and vile. But, you really can’t look at events of yesterday with today’s morality.

    That being said, in the Finnish example, I fully support his right to say whatever he wants to say, whether I like it or not.

  • Spurs Fan

    If we want to allow this Finnish politician to criticize Islam, true or not, then we must be willing to let others criticize Atheism, true or not.

    Um, I think atheism is criticized, quite often in fact. Am I missing something here?

  • Aj

    It’s always surprising to hear a European country taking such drastic measures. I almost expect it in America, but I thought Europeans were better than us when it came to matters of religion and free speech.

    What are you talking about Hemant? Europe has a bad record on freedom of speech and expression about religion. France and the United States are the only shining lights in the world as far as I know, their origins are connected with the enlightenment.

  • The Other Tom

    HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS:

    Find something in a christian bible that would be considered blasphemy in islam. Convince a muslim to sue the publisher, and maybe a few churches.

    Meanwhile, find something in the Koran that would be considered blasphemy in christianity. Convince a christian to sue the publisher, and maybe a few mosques.

    This “blasphemy law” BS won’t go away until you set them against each other, make them battle it out, and force all sides to recognize the hard way that if they don’t want to have their religion banned they will have to learn to live with other people believing and saying things they don’t like.

  • The Other Tom

    I thought Europeans were better than us when it came to matters of religion and free speech.

    Not at all. European nations tend to value social harmony over individual freedom. Speech rights are subordinate to laws preventing you from saying things that would cause social disharmony. (For example, in Germany it’s illegal to say good things about the nazis.) Religious “freedom” is more like “you have freedom of religion, so please specify your religion from this list of six socially accepted religions, so we know which church to give some of your tax dollars to.” The only way in which they’re more “free” about religion is that nobody seriously expects you to be forced to live your life according to religion.

  • http://vegan27.livejournal.com Paul Szewczyk

    Robert Madewell is right. That story is in the Hadith, not the Quran. But good luck finding a Muslim who dismisses the Hadith as historically questionable.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    For all those critizing this guy’s criticism of immigration:

    Can you blame him? Look at what Muslim immigration has done to Europe and the Scandinavian countries. In a few generations (given the extremely high Muslim birth rates), they’ll begin to dominate the populations.

    Is it wrong to be opposed to such a situation, especially given the behavior of large Muslim populations?

  • medussa

    @ Spurs Fan,
    what you’re missing is that Jon is a troll, who believes theists are victimized by atheists.
    Pay no heed to the troll.

  • Mikko

    time to print text that religious people see as blasphemy on a t-shirt and visit finland

  • Miko

    As others have mentioned, the European record on free speech, and indeed most forms of civil liberty, is pretty spotty. Their governments structure society so as to maintain a strong sense of order: they’ll leave you alone as long as you can keep it private, so gay rights and drug-use rights are typically stronger than in the U.S., but some “crimes” carry a presumption of guilt (e.g., failure to decrypt materials upon request in Britain) and if you start acting up in public or threatening the corporate tax-generation machine, you’ll quickly find yourself in prison.

  • Beth B.

    Hate speech laws should be (and nominally are — ?) about protections against exhortations to violence or threats made against particular groups. The quoted blog entry is an argument about Islam’s history and doctrines, without saying anything about Muslims as a group. I understand that most of Europe goes about freedom of speech differently than the U.S., but how does the term “hate speech” even apply?

  • Ana

    I don’t see a successful analogy between the reported Muhammad behavior (raping a 9 year old) and the use of the word “negroes” in textbooks. Is is really the same thing to change our historical perspective in regard to a word (change of meaning in “negroes”), than in regard to an act (a 50 year old man “having sex” with a 9 year old)? On the other hand, it really infuriates me that SPEAKING can be punished as ACTING. Words are as much offensive as people want them to be. And being offended is not the same as being hurt with a bullet in our chest, for instance (although sometimes it might feel quite the same, I would suspect).

  • http://www.americanthinker.com Jon

    Um, I think atheism is criticized, quite often in fact. Am I missing something here?

    Yes. Hemant, and others, get very upset when atheism is criticized.

  • http://www.americanthinker.com Jon

    @ Spurs Fan,
    what you’re missing is that Jon is a troll, who believes theists are victimized by atheists.
    Pay no heed to the troll.

    I don’t believe that theists are victimized by atheists. I also don’t believe that atheists are victimized by theists, in contrast to many others on this blog.

    There is a general indication that the atheists on this blog are feeling so opressed, and I just don’t think that’s reality.

  • Spurs Fan

    No, I realized that Jon was a troll. I just want to be convinced that somehow that atheists are not vicitmized in any way by the many Christians in this nation.

    Though, I guess ignoring would be the better thing to do.

  • http://sa.mu/el samuel

    Isn’t calling Muhammad a pedophile just an ad hom and poisoning the well?

  • Aj

    samuel,

    Isn’t calling Muhammad a pedophile just an ad hom and poisoning the well?

    Incorporated into a theodical argument it wouldn’t be either. It would be hard to argue to most people that a god known as “the Compassionate” and “the Merciful” wants old men to keep children as property and rape them. That’s just plain contradictory. Since Muhammad claims everything, as far as I know, from the authority of being super then either we accept that raping children is acceptable or that he’s not so super after all.

  • AxeGrrl

    The Other Tom wrote:

    This “blasphemy law” BS won’t go away until you set them against each other, make them battle it out, and force all sides to recognize the hard way that if they don’t want to have their religion banned they will have to learn to live with other people believing and saying things they don’t like.

    Bravo!

    This really is the only way to make some of them ‘get it’ ~ how they can’t see for themselves that such tactics can be turned around and used against them is beyond me, but that’s precisely why I think your suggestion is spot on Tom.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/StephanGoodwin Stephan

    Okay, I’ll play faux Islam’s advocate…

    Seems that everyone missed this part:
    Islam is a religion of pedophilia

    That is a claim that I don’t think he supported. It could just as easily be said, with these standards, that Judaism and Christianity are religions of pedophilia, but I don’t buy it. Everyone should just accept that in the bad old days, pedophila, like slavery and genocide, were acceptable. That doesn’t make the religions based on crap from these ages “religions of slavery” or religions of genocide.

    I don’t know what the blasphemy laws are in Finland, but I know that from any moral standpoint punishing someone for saying this is RIDICULOUS. Just argue them down.

  • Riksa

    Stephan:

    I think he did support the claim by saying that Muhammad is the ultimate role model in everything, and that islam holds that everything Muhammad did was super and should be emulated.

  • Hannu

    As a Finn I can say that this verdict is such an offence to free speech that it will no doubt be overturned when Halla-Aho appeals to the next stage of courts (“Hovioikeus”) or to the Supreme Court of Finland (“Korkein Oikeus”, KKO).

    He is, frankly, an idiot and someone who I wouldn’t vote for but to fine him for speaking his mind? We’re acting like Saudi-Arabia here!

  • Riksa

    Hannu:

    Thanks for the clarification of court circuits. I got them wrong.

  • OJ

    Regarding Halla-Aho’s attitude to free speech: He himself tried to sue YLE (the national broadcasting company) for calling him “race doctor”. Which would be a lot worse insult if the guy did not use the prestige of his PhD to promote racist agenda.

    Also, missing from the news story was that Halla-Aho was originally prosecuted for agitation against ethnic group (free translation, I’m not sure about correct legal terms). Since that was rejected, the blasphemy charge was sort of consolation prize. I’d say that many politicians have spent more money for worse publicity.

  • http://myislam.zoomshare.com/ nasheeds

    every religion must be respected.


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