Thrown in Prison for Shredding the Koran

Andrew E. Harrod is a freelance researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies. You may follow Harrod on twitter at @AEHarrod.


A Bruges, Belgium criminal court convicted a man for shredding a Koran on March 6, 2013.  The court imposed a four-month prison sentence and a 600 euro fine upon him.  He now additionally faces a revocation of a previous suspension of an 18-month prison sentence for having set a fire in a wood.  This case highlights yet again the greater restrictions on speech in free societies outside of the United States and how these restrictions can limit open debate about Islam.

The man, identified in print only as Arne S., attended a demonstration on June 8, 2012, in Ostend, Belgium, before retiring to a café.  There Arne exchanged words with a dozen Muslims and tore apart a Koran before them.  As described in a Belgian press account, Arne’s counsel at trial claimed that the Muslims had thrown the “sacred book” at Arne, striking him in the head.  Arne’s lawyer, Olivier Ryde, thus claimed that no infraction of Belgium’s law on hate speech had occurred.  No reports of assault charges against the Muslims have appeared.

Arne’s case demonstrates that Belgium, like many other European countries, has laws against what is commonly called “hate speech.”  In particular, Article 22 of the Belgian Law of May 10, 2007, Aiming to Struggle Against Certain Forms of Discrimination, prohibits incitement of hatred, discrimination, violence, and/or segregation against persons of various protected classes in public settings defined by Article 444 of the Belgian Penal Code.  Article 3 of the May 10, 2007, laws defines these protected classes

based upon age, sexual orientation, civil state, birth, fortune, religious or philosophical conviction, political conviction, trade union views, language, actual or future state of health, handicap, physical or genetic characteristic, or social origin.

Cheradenine Zakalwe of the website Islam versus Europe has asked in relation to Arne, “Is Sharia already in force in Europe?”  Yet Arne is not the first individual in Europe convicted of destroying a “sacred book,” nor is the Koran the only book in Europe that qualifies for this designation.  Poland’s supreme court ruled on October 29, 2012 that a lower court was wrong to exonerate the Polish heavy metal musician Adam Darski on blasphemy charges for having ripped apart a Bible as a “book of lies” during a September 2007 concert.

In Darski’s case, though, the European Union’s (EU) executive body, the European Commission (EC), came to Darski’s defense.  An EC statement on October 31, 2012 expressed the traditional justification for free speech that “[t]his right protects not only information or ideas that are favorably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also those that offend, shock or disturb.”  It remains to be seen whether the EC will make the same defense à la Voltaire for Arne’s anti-Islam sentiments.

Controversies about blasphemy aside, Belgium’s equation of “religious” and other “convictions” with physical characteristics such as a person’s place of “birth” is troubling.  Such a conception of “hate speech” encompasses not just the debatable proposition of proscribing animus expressed against individuals, but also the prohibition of at least certain forms of opposition to ideas like Islam.  In effect, an individual’s identification with an idea like Islam helps shield this belief from attack in a kind of ideological umbrella.

The cases of Arne, Darski, and others continue to show that criticism and/or condemnation of Islam can be legally perilous in European societies traditionally restrictive of free speech out of deference to group sensibilities and social harmony.  Now that Muslim communities have established themselves in an often politically correct modern Europe, rejection of Islam is no longer a merely academic matter involving distant peoples.  Precisely the proximity of Islam to Europe, however, demands unfettered critical evaluation of this faith now more than ever.  Modern expansive notions of “hate speech” and traditional concepts of blasphemy, now applied not just to Europe’s historically dominant Christian faith but also to an increasingly prominent Islam, can only hinder this necessary inquiry into Islam.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Well, Eurabia is gone and this is a fact. In reality, a continent which tolerates the silencing of cartoonists (for heaven sake!) has gone over to the dark side.

    In any case, the US is right behind Europe, in its proximity to silencing any debate re Islam. Consider: http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/12/15/shariah-law-i

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • Malik

    Desecrating the word of Allah is an unforgivable sin. When Islam has come to the corrupt west, disrespecting the word of the Creator and His greatest Prophet (pbuh) will be punished by death. Islam is a perfect way of life and you who disregard it will burn in Hellfire inshallah.

    • Etienne Francois

      Malik dear friend Your prophet child molester is your master from Hell. He listened to Satan the devil and thought it was God. Satan is the ruler of this world since the very beginning and he is ruling your life and your masters life as well. Listen to the prophet Isa al Masih and read the bible and follow it as instructed by Muhammad.
      And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We (Allah) reveal unto thee, then ask those who read the Scripture (that was ) before thee. Qur 10:94.
      Say (unto them, O Muhammad) Then bring a scripture from the presence of Allah that gives clearer guidance than these two (The Torah And Gospel) (that) I may follow it, if you are truthful Qur 28:49. Why don't you follow these instruction from your prophet and meet the Master of the universe and ask him to forgive your sin and come into your life and reward you with everlasting life to rule the world with HIM one day. What a blessing.

      • Ricshard

        Excellent, Etienne. Amen.

    • Me, UK

      "Desecrating the word of Allah is an unforgivable sin."

      No it's not!

    • defcon 4

      "…disrespecting the word of the Creator and His greatest Prophet (PASBUH) will be punished by death." A islamofascist rant somewhat reminiscent of the zero's rant at the UN: "there must be no future for those who insult the prophet of islam."

    • Demetrius M

      First of all, who is Allah? It would seem that muslims follow Mohammad's word more than Allah's and don't tell me they are the same words. Mohammad was a fraud and what you adhere to is not a religion but a form of social control. Read your sira and hadith. There is little theological connotations in your books. Wouldn't be a big deal except your political and social control order is hellbent on using violence to intimidate anyone who does not wish to join.
      What religion forces membership? What religion murders those who chose to leave. If you truly believed in G-d, you would place their punishment into HIS hands, not your own. They say Christianity has inconsistencies, but your movement is constructed upon them.

      • Bob

        Allah was Al-ilah the moon god to the pre-islamic Arabs (married to a female sun god and with 3 god-daughters). The Babylonians call him Marduk and he existed previously in many other pagan cultures, but of course they are all just faces of Satan.

    • shane

      go back to turdistan!

    • Rebecca

      Your allah is the beast mentioned in Revelation in the Christian Bible. It is not hard to imagine the anti christ coming out of Islam. Particularly when you look at the savage behaviour of many of Islam's adherents and the reaction to that savagery by the so called moderates of the religion. Islam may have gained a foothold in Europe, but I wouldn't count on it getting too far in America. We are a fairly benign people, until someone tries to shove our back up against a wall, and then we tend to get a bit testy.

    • Abelard

      LIAR OF LIARS!!!!!

      Your EVIL Islam forbids art, music, science, even medicine!!! You despise people like Newton, Mozart, J.S. Bach, Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci – all thanks to a psychopathic genocide, murderer, rapist, thief, pædophile (child-abuser), liar, necrophiliac, bestialist and sadist named Mohammed, whom you worship and adulate as "THE ideal man"!!!! You love EVIL and hate good – no wonder Islam inspires the direst loathing and repugnance among all those of us PROUD and HAPPY "infidels" who know to use God's GIFTS (instead of killing them like your Mohammed and his sidekick "allah" insist upon doing!!!!) – and who're waking up to just how SATANIC Islam really is!!!!!

      DEATH TO ISLAM and all totalitarianism, now, forever and unto ages of all ages, world without end, Amen!!!!!

      And, to rub things in yet more against all Mohammedans: "Allahu skatta, Yahweh akbar, Allahu SHAYTAN, Mohammed rasul Shaytan!!!" ["allah" is the lowliest, Yahweh is great, "allah is Satan and Mohammed is the prophet of Satan!!!"]

    • kasandra

      Hey, I've got an idea. Since the West is soiling Islam because it (i.e., the West) is so corrupt, don't come here. We wouldn't want to sully your religion, after all.

    • Abdullah

      My sear, dear Malik,

      This is how the game is played. When Islam comes to the west, you will not last long.

      You will have some problem. You will be black, or non-Arab, or Shia or some other defect. You will have to run, to hide. You can mouth all the right words, but we will find some defect with you.

      Many devout Muslims who have gone on the haj died in a suicide bomb blast while praying at a mosque in Pakistan at the hands of … well … other Muslims.

      Black Muslims in Dharfour have died at the hands of … well other Muslims who while black have more Arab blood.

      The list is long.

      I sleep well knowing that you are defective & that some Muslims somewhere sees it so.

    • EarlyBird

      Your version of God ais quite the sissy, isn't he? Mine doesnt' get worked up so much.

    • http://1389blog.com 1389AD

      As far as I am concerned, the acronym "pbuh" spells out the sound that comes out of one's nether regions after having eaten beans and cabbage.

      • snuffydegauss

        i thought it was the sound that is emitted when they prostrate and worship the moon god.

        • http://1389blog.com 1389AD

          Haha, good one! I'll have to remember that!

    • Pontotoc Bill

      Malik, the Quran is NOT the word of the Creator, the Lord God. The Quran is the word of allah, given to Moohammed by an imposter angel who claimed to be Gabriel. The actual angel who gave the Quran to Moohammed was the Prince of Lies, Lucifer, also known as Satan.

      Islam is a corrupted religion based on Judiasm and Christianity, created by Satan to be an inverse of the Truth of the Lord God, and will lead all who follow it to the depths of Hell.

      Search yourself, Malik. You know Islam is false.

    • Alicia

      Malik, your Koran is a work of hatred and incitement to murder. Haven't you read it? If all Korans would destroyed, perhaps this could help your people on the path to sanity, peace and harmony with the rest of the world.

    • Mary Sue

      I'm sorry but your fairy tale deity has no effect on me at all. Try again. You can't be unforgiven by something that doesn't exist.

    • snuffydegauss

      what do you do with old battered copies of the book when they are worn out?

      • http://1389blog.com 1389AD

        Actually…I think that Muslims (but not us "infidels") dispose of them by burning them.
        Go figure!

    • Foxy

      Malik,
      You villify the corrupt West and Western values but you all love Western technology, much of it, Jewish

    • Guy Macher

      I say Mohamed is a lying looting raping murdering psychopathic pedophile and that Allah is his bum boy. I say you ape the worst human who ever lived. Islam is the doctrine of evil. Muslims are barbarians., I think that covers it.

  • Anthony

    Well, I’ll agree that the West is collapsing, and that is largely due to secular humanism which has sought to destroy Christ’s teachings which built our civilization.

    Ultimately, our tolerance of too much, including allowing millions of Mohammedans into the European continent, despite our ancestors bold defense against them in history

    To keep them at bay in their own territories appears either massive error in judgment or an intentional plan to create something utopian.

    In any event, I agree with the Moslem believers on one point, we Christians should be more respectful and protective of our religion and traditions as they are. Because as you can see, our indifference and disobedience to God has given us a society that is perverse, suicidal, illogical, violent, unenlightened, etc.

    • Abelard

      It's a Communist plot intended to DESTROY our Western civilisation: they're using the Mohammedan virii as their allies in that mutual quest!!! They both hate each other, just as Hitler and Stáljin mutually hated each other; however, they're happy to work together for the time being.

      Of course they'll fight it out once our Judæo-Christian morality, values and civilisation are prostrate on the ground: the muzturds want "pure Islam", the Commies "perfect Marxism"; however, they both HATE God (the true God Yahweh), Christ (the Only-Begotten Son of Yahweh the True God), Moses and EVERYTHING AND EVERYBODY GOOD!!!!

  • mike

    I'm sure we don't have much to worry about concerning allah on judgement day for surely he will be burning in hell!

  • Jack

    Andrew Harrod
    "18-month prison sentence for having set a fire in a wood. "

    What is this about? Did he have an illegal campground fire or was he attempting arson?

    • Andrew E. Harrod

      There was no further information reported on this prior conviction. Sorry.

  • jerome

    The Dark Ages have come back to roost in Euriope infiltrating the nest of ultra liberalism and denial of its own culture that Europe now embraces.Sharia will settle in like a cancer and eat the host out from within
    whilst the Euriopeans blithely ignore the problem and actually abet their destroyers.
    Amazing!

    • kasandra

      Don't worry. The kind of absurdity reported by the article is coming soon to a country near you. Our administration has been negotiating with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the UN over an international treaty that would, inter alia, ban criticisms of Islam. As any first year law student will tell you, treaties that have been ratified by the Senate have the force and effect of our Constitution. I believe the principle of the treaty is also embodied in UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 which the U.S. has supported.

    • Drakken

      Funny thing about the muslims in europe, they are pushing the natives to the brink, this is not going to end well for the muslims of whatever stripe, soon it will be hunting season with no bag limit, the muslims will be fleeing Europe in droves or perish.

      • defcon 4

        Or alternatively vice-versa…

        • Drakken

          The one thing you can depend on the Europeans is their ability to wage unrestricted warfare with frightening ability and zeal, so I wouldn't lay a bet against them.

          • Mary Sue

            hopefully at some point Europe will slap its collective forehead and go "YOu know, those Serbs were onto something…"

  • Moliminous

    Sharia law and extremist Islam is like a virus. One needs antibiotics or surgery. Without these, you will die.

    • kaz

      you are mistaken. most viruses are self limiting, and go away in a week or two. islam is more like yersinia pestis. deadly. carried by parasites, enabled by rats, and killed half of the population of europe.

  • RiverFred

    Why would you go to jail for shredding a fairytale book?

  • EarlyBird

    The irony is that these ridiculous, anti-liberty blasphemy and religious bans in Europe started with European Jews demanding laws agains Holocaust denial and defamation of Jews. That sort of illiberalism sets precedents that now radical Muslims have demanded.

    • defcon 4

      Do you have any proof for your assertion? Or is it self evident?

    • Mary Sue

      Actually some of those laws are holdovers from when Christianity was a little more sensitive than it is now.

    • Ghostwriter

      Why am I not surprised that EarlyBird would blame Jews for something? He'd probably blame them if his car got a flat tire.

  • arishsahani

    How a book printing cots not more then a $ 1.00 has more power and value than a human life.

  • The Resistence

    I note the administrator has deleted my comments. Is that because he is a muso lover?

    • Mary Sue

      no. It's automated. I've had perfectly fine comments go poof.

  • Drakken

    Today the govts of europe silence peoples voices, tomorrow they will hear the sound of rifles in response.

  • Francisco Bravo

    FPM deletes all my comments regarding islam.

  • john

    If I had a qu'ran book I would burn it to day. Soon they are being dropped of by the mailman and the the fun begins.

  • Moss

    I would not wipe my ass with a page from the Koran, the ink is poison.

    • http://1389blog.com 1389AD

      Book paper clogs toilets.

  • Infadel

    Roger that Moss. Play it safe. Burn it!

  • 100%haram

    you don't burn a koran for the same reason you don't burn a ouija board. both are gateways for evil spirits/demons to enter and LEAVE the physical realm. if you destroy the gate, you can't get rid of the evil entity.

    i don't think it works as toilet paper Moss. wouldn't it leave your butt dirtier not cleaner? or is that how the shiite muslim sect started? wait, should that have one "i" or two?

    • kaz

      please stop insulting ouija boards. they are much more credible than the qu'ran

    • http://1389blog.com 1389AD

      AFAIK, you CAN burn a ouija board. If the evil spirits/demons are still around we Orthodox Christians have a priest bless whatever person or location may have been affected.

      We have our homes and cars blessed every spring as a regular activity on our liturgical calendar.

  • 100%haram

    you don't burn a koran for the same reason you don't burn a ouija board. both are gateways for evil spirits/demons to enter and LEAVE the physical realm. if you destroy the gate, you can't get rid of the evil entity.

    i don't think it works as toilet paper Moss. wouldn't it leave your butt dirtier not cleaner? or is that how the shiite muslim sect started? wait, should that have one "i" or two?

  • Infovoyeur

    Maybe El Problemo Majore, is that humans mistakenly think that this, that, the other System can bring human social-cultural etc. perfection on earth. It can't, this is the lower mundane sphere, imperfect due to Human Nature, a combo of good–and evil among humans themselves who would have to administer etc. these Systems.

    Perhaps this applies to many religious systems. To political systemps both "liberal Utopia world govt." etc. and authoritarian fascist dictatorships. To "reflective reason" as our salvation as some French guy Condorcet "preached." And other Systems. But people unaware of History and Humans, overlook this.

    Took me a while to see this which Machiavelli and some of the Ancients perceived clear-headedly.

    Perhaps there's nothing for it but to Keep Calm & Carry On in the interludes between wars, which (wars) of course one must battle against with calm immense resolve. Is that it?

  • Tan

    Europe is finished if the Sharia continues to plague the freedoms of individual Europeans. Every American needs to know what's going on in Europe. This is disastrous. This stuff will happen in America if we don't wake up. We can expect possibly civil wars to take place in Europe if the Sharia really gets out of hand. And the same could happen in America. It's not to late to spread awareness and prevent from all this bad stuff happening.

    • kaz

      civil war? nah. it takes two sides to make a war. europe's cowardly europeans have already accepted their fate as slaves to islam. muslims are already celebratin their victory over european cowards. they have the same plans for australia and north america. i dont see any more resolve there to resist islam than in cowardly europe.

  • Len_Powder

    "The court imposed a four-month prison sentence and a 600 euro fine upon him."

    Comment: The court imposed much more on him than a fine and a prison sentence. It imposed the death penalty which will be served in the prison he is assigned to which undoubtedly contains radical Islamists eagerly looking forward to his arrival.

    "In effect, an individual’s identification with an idea like Islam helps shield this belief from attack in a kind of ideological umbrella."

    Comment: The Left's utopian goal is to make all of us the same regardless of heritage, culture, place of birth, religious beliefs, skin color, race, political affiliation, wealth, income, etc.The methodology for accomplishing this goal involves penalizing people for making distinctions between themselves and others. In a world government there cannot be any room for pointing out differences among people because that would cause dissension instead of compliance and uniformity.

    "The cases of Arne, Darski, and others continue to show that criticism and/or condemnation of Islam can be legally perilous in European societies traditionally restrictive of free speech out of deference to group sensibilities and social harmony."

    Comment: Incredible, is it not, that after WWII Europe should have turned into a continent of Neville Chamberlains? He was concerned with Hitler's sensibilities and the need for peace in Europe. His idea was that if people stopped accusing Hitler of 'belligerence' and 'aggression' then he would stop being belligerent and aggressive. That naive idealism did not work out too well, did it?

  • kaz

    a word of warning to belgians from north america: we liberated you from the nazis. there will be no liberation of belgium from islam by north america. the reason is that our population is just as cowardly and foolish as yours, and our governments are just as treasonous. if you surrender to islam, you are and will remain their cowardly slaves until they genocide you and rid the world of your kind. i hope your cowardly surrender and genocide will cause us in north america to rid ourselves of our treasonous governments, and then expel our muslim invaders. please surrender to islam soon, and let the genocide begin. our time is running out, and we need the example of what happens to cowardly fools that surrender to evil.

  • Mia Seths

    Banning criticism of Islam is the first step on the road to theocracy. How could a contingent that suffered through the Inquisition allow another religious state to take hold?