Manual on Hate Speech

The right to freedom of expression entails duties and responsibilities and is subject to certain limits, provided for in Article 10.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which are concerned, among other things, with protecting the rights of others. Identifying what constitutes “hate speech” is especially difficult because this type of speech does not necessarily involve the expression of hatred or feelings.

On the basis of all the applicable texts on freedom of expression and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and other bodies, the author identifies certain parameters that make it possible to distinguish expressions which, although sometimes insulting, are fully protected by the right to freedom of expression from those which do not enjoy that protection.

CAIR: Senator Arlen Specter cancels speech at anti-Islam event

The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced that Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) has cancelled a scheduled appearance at an “anti-Islam” conference in Washington DC, hosted by a right-wing think tank headed by Daniel Pipes, who is regarded by many as one of the nation’s leading Islamophobes. Specter was to give the opening address at the conference, but cited a “scheduling conflict.” The premise of the conference, called “Libel Lawfare: Silencing Criticism of Radical Islam,” is that American Muslims are involved in a concerted effort to suppress free speech by misusing the American legal system. “We applaud Senator Specter’s decision to withdraw from this inaccurate, inflammatory and agenda-driven conference,” said CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Justin Peyton. “We strongly support free speech and other First Amendment rights, but believe the senator’s appearance at this event would have legitimized views not shared by the majority of Pennsylvanians of all faiths,” said a spokesperson for CAIR.

Muslim writer denied German award after criticizing crucifix

A Cologne-based Muslim writer has been dropped from a list of recipients for a major German culture prize after an article he wrote on the imagery of crucifixion ruffled feathers among Christian leaders.

The award was supposed to jointly go to four men from four different world religions – to a Catholic, a Lutheran, a Muslim and a Jew. But now, Muslim author Navid Kermani has been dropped from the quartet after a controversial article has upset the two Christian candidates. Catholic Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz and Peter Steinacker, the former head of the Lutheran church of Hesse and Nassau have objected to sharing the prize with Kermani, a Cologne-based writer who was born in Iran.

In March, Kermani penned an article for Switzerland’s Neue Zuercher Zeitung about a recent trip to Rome, where he went to see a 17th century painting by Guido Reni depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Kermani’s piece is an analysis of the painting and leads to a philosophical discussion of the crucifix as a religious symbol. “I’d express my personal rejection of the theology of the cross frankly with ‘blasphemy and idolatry’.” “Not that I respect people who pray before the cross any less than other people at prayer. This isn’t an accusation. It’s a rejection,” he wrote. This did not go down too well with Cardinal Lehmann and Peter Steinacker, who formally complained to the Cultural Committee of the state of Hesse. Giving in to the pressure, the committee has responded by withdrawing the prize from Kermani. The fourth recipient is Salomon Korn of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.