Please be reminded that German courts are not always that indulgent.
Internet Curse against Islam Critic
The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution consider a curse at an Internet platform for Muslims as a license to kill. German judges don't even want to see it as defamation.
How subtle will a supposed call for the murder of an Islam critic have to be so that German judges won't even recognise it as a defamation of the target? The case, which the Higher Regional Court Oldenburg will have to settle within the next couple of weeks is a potential lecture about the limits of the freedom of opinion and speech.
Yavuz Özoguz from Delmenhorst [near Bremen] hosts one of the busiest Internet platforms for Muslims in Germany. He says that Muslim-Markt can boast 50,000 to 70,000 visitors per week. 2005 he had written a prayer in one of his Internet fora, which cursed the author and Islam-critic Hans-Peter Raddatz. The disputed lines go like this: "And if Mr. Raddatz is a hatemonger [literally: Hassprediger=preacher of hate] and liar, then the almighty creator may punish him for his crimes…" [I add the German text for clarity: "Und wenn Herr Raddatz ein Hassprediger und Lügner ist, dann möge der allmächtige Schöpfer ihn für seine Verbrechen bestrafen ..."]
Raddatz understood the item, declared to be a prayer, as a call for murder and took Özoguz to court. The Regional Court Oldenburg refused to proceed with the trial against Özoguz. The "prayer" is, according to the court, no call for killing Hans-Peter Raddatz. Although punishment is mentioned, that implies, so the court, an appeal to God in the afterlife... The judges didn't recognise a call for other Internet surfers to commit a crime.
State Attorney Submits Objection
The Oldenburg state attorney Staatsanwalt Rainer du Mesnil de Rochemont disagrees. He thinks that the Internet curse would be no problem if the addressees were exclusively people with a Western-European appreciation of culture and religion. As it is, he thinks: "Active Islamists will understand it as a call [for murder]." He has submitted an immediate complaint against the decision at the Higher Regional Court .
Herbert Landolin Müller from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution of the state of Baden-Württemberg and one of the leading experts for extremist Islam in Germany argues in much the same way. A serious appeal to the conscience and the sense of duty of a Muslim would be sufficient for a call for murder.
"Irresponsible and Dangerous"
This triggers off memories of the [Mohammed] cartoon affair. Specifically at a time when various expressions of written and creative freedom are taken as blasphemy and part of a culture struggle, "such verbal attacks ad personam are irresponsible and dangerous", the man from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution advises in his 19-page expertise, which the Oldenburg judges had seen as well. The host of the Internet platform courts the risk that the Islam critic "will not just be intimidated, but become, as personified enemy, the target of 'punishment action' the consequences of which are incalculable.
His language betrays Özoguz, so Müller, head of the competence team for extremist Islam of the Stuttgart [state of Baden-Württemberg] Office for the Protection of the Constitution. He uses for the German author the same vocabulary ("liar", "criminal") like for the writer Salman Rushdie who is living under the threat of a "death fatwa" or for the Dutch director Theo van Gogh who was murdered by an Islamist… Apparently, reminding of a historical pattern is enough "to inspire potential perpetrators".
But the Oldenburg court wouldn't even regard epithets like "liar" and "hatemonger" as defamation of Raddatz. After all, hadn't the writer "frequently criticised Islam harshly". The author, who repetitively denounces a pro-Islam cartel in politics and society and who polemises against Islam's "useful animals" ("Islam-Nützlinge") is annoyed: "It's your own fault" seems to sum up the judges opinion.
Raddatz is subject to Personal Security
Since the Internet-threat, Raddatz is living under personal security
and has to report any travelling to the police. Funny enough, so he says, since this threat all other threats have ceased.
Raddatz, a scholar of Islamic Studies and representative of the Deutsche Bank in the Middle East for many years, isn't overawed. In his latest book "Iran. Persische Hochkultur und irrationale Macht" (Iran. Persian High Culture and Irrational Power) he states that the Quran includes a "manual for mass murder" ("eine Praxisanleitung für den Massenmord").
The 61-year-old Manfred van Hove had sheets of toilet paper stamped with the word "Koran", after the London bombings in July 2005, which he had sent to German television stations, magazines and some 15 mosques. In an accompanying letter he had called the Koran a "cookbook for terrorists". Van Hove used to work for 15 years in Arab countries as a construction site manager and there he learned, so he said, to despise Islam. "Did you watch an execution there?" he snapped at the prosecutor. He was given a one-year prison sentence with a probation period of five years plus 300 hours of community service in February.
Hans-Peter Raddatz, graduated in Islamic science from Bonn university and spent many years in the Middle East, representing international banks and corporations. His books on Islam and the West obtained wide recognition: "Von Gott zu Allah?" (From God to Allah), "Von Allah zum Terror?" (From Allah to terror), "Allahs Schleier Allahs Schleier - die Frau im Kampf der Kulturen" (Allah's Veil - Women in the Clash of Civilisations) and "Allahs Frauen" - Djihad zwischen Demokratie und Scharia (Allah's Women - Jihad Between Democracy and Sharia. Also; he is one of the few German contributors to "Encyclopaedia of Islam", the renowned standard reference work for scholarly researchers.