This is extraordinarily bad news: the two Christian pastors from Catch the Fire Ministries on trial in Australia under its new religious vilification laws have been found guilty — essentially for telling the truth about Islam. From The Australian, with thanks to all who sent in stories about this:
In a decision handed down today in a key test of Victoria’s three-year-old racial and religious vilification laws, Judge Michael Higgins found in favour of the Islamic Council of Victoria, which took the action against Catch The Fire.
Judge Higgins found that Catch the Fire and Pastor Scot had breached section eight of the Religious and Racial Tolerance Act.
Also found in breach was church leader Pastor Nalliah, who was an unsuccessful senate candidate for the Family First party in this year’s federal election.
Judge Higgins will decide on penalties, which could include orders for an apology or damages, early next year.
Judge Higgins said the seminar run by the ministry, a newsletter on its website, and a website article written by an author identified as Richard all breached the Act.
In a summary of reasons for his decision, Judge Higgins said Pastor Scot had throughout the seminar made fun of Muslim beliefs and conduct.
“It was done, not in the context of a serious discussion of Muslims’ religious beliefs,” Judge Higgins said.
“It was presented in a way which is essentially hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslim people, their God, Allah, the prophet Mohammed and in general Muslim religious beliefs and practices.”
Judge Higgins said that, during the seminar, Pastor Scot had claimed that the Koran promoted violence, killing and looting and that Muslims were liars and demons.
Pastor Scot also had said Muslims had a plan to overrun western democracy by violence and terror and wanted to turn Australia into an Islamic nation, and he exaggerated Muslim population numbers in Australia.
“I find that Pastor Scot’s conduct was not engaged in reasonably and in good faith for any genuine religious purpose or any purpose that is in the public interest,” he said.
Judge Higgins evidently was unmoved by direct evidence from the Qur’an promoting violence and killing (see 9:5, 9:29, 2:191, etc.). As for the idea that “Muslims were liars and demons,” that is extreme and inaccurate, and I don’t know what the pastors really said, but there is an Islamic doctrine of religious deception (taqiyya or kitman), based on Qur’an 3:28 and 16:106. This doesn’t make all Muslims liars, much less demons, but it certainly should make one unsurprised when discovering a Muslim lying.
Yasser Soliman, president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said it had been important to make a stand against vilification of Muslims in the community.
“We also had the support of the Catholic Church, the interfaith community and the Uniting Church and the Jewish community” Mr Soliman said.
“Because it was very important that we all stood together against vilification and understand that vilification is a tool used by extremists, and we must always condemn extremism and vilification.
“That was important, because left unaddressed, it was limiting the (Muslim) community’s ability to be seen as average Australians.
“People were being demonised, (being denied) the ability to get jobs, to be friends, to be safe.
“We had to act upon it and felt it was important to have it determined by law.”
Certainly no one should be demonized, and innocent people should not be made to feel unsafe. But if it is against the law to say that a book that directs believers to kill or subjugate unbelievers is promoting violence, the line is being drawn improperly here. It is chilling any reasonable discussion of the nature of Islam, the connection of Islam to terrorism, and the significance of large and growing Muslim minorities (of which untold numbers are certain to be attached to the Sharia, and hoping one day to implement it) for the continued survival of Western pluralistic societies.
Finally, Ali Dashti has sent in a helpful collection of links about the global assault on free speech:
This assault on Australian freedom has been going on for some time:
First of all, I would like to remind everybody that the killing of people for blasphemy, criticizing Muhammad and Islam, is a part of the Sunna, Muhammad’s personal example, and as such a part of Islam, despite what PeeCee media may claim. Non-Muslims such as the poetess Asma bint Marwan were murdered by Muhammad’s thugs for doing nothing else than daring to criticize his teachings. Read more about it here:
This is the immediate and direct Islamic cause why Theo van Gogh was murdered, and why Ayaan Hirsi Ali is fearing for her life:
There is right now a coordinated, global Islamic attack on Western freedom of speech, designed to intimidate us into submission just like the early Muslims and Muhammad himself did with their opponents. As an example, I want to mention a conference in Birmingham in August, in which more than 20,000 Muslims from many countries participated. Some called for the UN to declare defamation of Muhammad an international crime.
It seems as if the UN has shown some willingness to listen to this:
UN Forum Explores Ways To Fight ‘Islamophobia.’
This direct attack on our freedom and democracy is happening at the same time, from the UK to Denmark and from Belgium to the USA. It needs to be fought with all our strength, or democracy itself will be lost: