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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

France says ‘no’ to sharia blasphemy law

When EDL supporters/members say that the state, or the police, is trying to implement sharia blasphemy law, under the assumption that all criticisms of Islam, or of Muslims as Muslims, are judged to ‘incite racial hatred’, then we have some support in France. A lawyer, named Renaud Bettcher, has said that prosecutors had attempted to introduce blasphemy law into France.
Prosecutors had been trying to convict Ernesto Rojas Abbate of ‘inciting racial hatred’. What did Abbate actually do? He posted footage of himself wearing a devil mask and tearing pages from the Islamic holy book setting it on fire and later urinating on it to extinguish the flames. He was arrested for these acts in October last year.

What was racist about them? Nothing. If anything, it was a brave - and perhaps a silly - piece of absurdist (bedroom) theatre. You could have called this piece of theatre anything... but ‘racist’. You may think it silly. Outrageous. ‘Insulting to the Koran’. But ‘racist’? No way!

The defendant’s lawyer himself said that Abbate’s theatrics were ‘willingly outrageous and deliberately provocative’. However, there was no ‘racist intent’ involved. More clearly, there was no evidence to suggest that Ernesto Abbate did what he did ‘to arouse feelings of hostility’ towards Muslims. However, Abbate’s theatrics were seen, by the French prosecutors and, indeed, by the English state, as ‘racist’. That is, they were ‘racist’ because

they were an attempt to arouse feelings of hostility towards Muslims.

But arousing feelings of hostility towards Muslims isn’t racist either. Unless we go one step further, which the French persecutors must have done in this case, and say that

any attempt or utterance intended to arouse feelings of hostility towards Muslims is racist in itself

regardless of the defender’s views on race generally and the fact that Muslims do not constitute a single race - or even any race at all.

We must remember that not only did the defendant’s lawyer say it was not a case of racism. He also argued that Ernesto didn’t have any malicious intent towards all Muslims. More importantly, this theatrical act should not have been the victim of blasphemy law, or sharia law, in that such a law does not even exist in France! Or, as the lawyer, Renaud Bettcher, put it:

‘In a secular and republican society, it is incomprehensible that my client was prosecuted. Blasphemy does not exist in France.’

Bon jovi!

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1 comment:

  1. The Frogs should try a law like that protecting Scientologists :)