Undaunted: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff’s Fight for Free Speech

elisabeth-sabaditsch-wolff-2The self-proclaimed Austrian “anti-jihad”  and “anti-sharia activist” Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff appeared on June 21, 2013 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC, at an event co-sponsored by the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).  In introducing the event, CSP’s Christine Brim called people like Sabaditsch-Wolff the “defenders of freedom” in a “struggle…to preserve free speech” and “equality under the law.” Sabaditsch-Wolff’s subsequent presentation of her courageous struggles in no way belied Brim’s introduction.

Sabaditsch-Wolff discussed her own well-publicized ordeals and subsequent activism stemming from criticizing Islam, a faith described by her as a “religion of peace” that “is not really peaceful to those who speak the truth.” Daughter of a diplomat, she had already developed reservations about Islam during her childhood stay in Iran right before the 1978-1979 revolution.  During her diplomatic tenure, postings to Kuwait encompassing the 1990 Iraq invasion and to Libya where she saw her landlord on September 11, 2001, blame the Jews for Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks that day only increased these concerns.

The controversy surrounding Sabaditsch-Wolff began with her comments before an October 2009 Vienna seminar of the rightwing Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs or FPÖ).  Discussing canonical accounts of Islam’s mid-50s prophet Muhammad consummating a marriage with a nine-year old Aisha, Sabaditsch-Wolff asked “what do you call” this “if not pedophilia?”  Subsequently, Sabaditsch-Wolff received hate speech charges under Section 283 of the Austrian Criminal Code.

The trial found insufficient evidence for the Section 283 charge. Yet the judge’s initiative brought a Section 188 charge against the denigration of recognized religions, resulting in a 480 Euro fine on February 15, 2011, later upheld.  Thus Sabaditsch-Wolff concluded that under Europe’s various speech restrictions “you may not call a spade a spade” with respect to Islam.

This ordeal made Sabaditsch-Wolff devote herself to opposing Islamic totalitarianism, with her main “playground” the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  This 1975-founded non-treaty organization “many people have never heard of” contains 57 states, including the United States and Canada, formulating various legally non-binding agreements in the areas of security, economics, and human rights. Here Sabaditsch-Wolff focuses on the OSCE’s Human Dimension covering human rights, in particular the Warsaw-based Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Sabaditsch-Wolff described the OSCE as a “significant source” for developing hate speech laws in OSCE countries and the world. Thus Sabaditsch-Wolff proclaimed that “we don’t want to forfeit this game” at ODIHR against “Islamists” and “far left institutions…directly opposed to free speech.”  To suppress criticism of Islam, these groups condemn “Islamophobia,” a “term not legally defined.”

Speaking of her own experience, Sabaditsch-Wolff declared, “How dare someone accuse me of a concept that does not exist.”  In this respect Sabaditsch-Wolff showed a video of her Belgian colleague David Erzet calling at ODIHR for an OSCE prohibition of “Islamophobia’s” use, given that a “phobia is a mental illness.” Erzet noted that the “practice of suppressing freedom of expression by characterizing it as mental illness is reminiscent” of the Soviet Union.  Sabaditsch-Wolff, meanwhile, cited Islamic anti-Semitism as a “huge problem in Europe.”

Sabaditsch-Wolff’s work for ODIHR has been on behalf of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like Bürgerbewegung (Citizens Movement) Pax Europa, the Austrian chapter of ACT, and the International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA).  The OSCE offered many civic action possibilities and allowed for small groups to exercise considerable power given the organization’s consensus nature.  Private individuals may raise issues, file papers into the OSCE record such that the “cat is out of the bag” and available for future reference, and create reinforcing alliances with other individuals and diplomats.  Civic defenders of freedom like Sabaditsch-Wolff remained unpaid, unlike government officials at the OSCE, even while “doing their work for them.”

For those who would emulate Sabaditsch-Wolff, she says “don’t expect to make friends” at the OSCE, although Sabaditsch-Wolff mentions “sort of a working relationship” with the Holy See.  Sabaditsch-Wolff, for example, notes the Pakistani-Danish “self-declared entirely secular Muslim” Bashy Quraishi who has publicly insinuated at ODIHR an “open threat” of violence from Muslims offended by Islam’s “demonization.”  Quraishi is very “arrogant” and appears to Sabaditsch-Wolff as a “jerk,” but they smile to each other in OSCE hallways.  Sabaditsch-Wolff observed that “only a brave few speak against the oppression under sharia” at the OSCE but she wants this to “expand into a brave many,” particularly given numerous uncovered events at OSCE conferences.

Sabaditsch-Wolff also noted that at the OSCE it is that it is “frowned upon” to mention “Islamic doctrine,” but she remains undeterred.  During one discussion by Sabaditsch-Wolff of women under Islam, including Koran 4:34’s reference to wife-beating, the “room exploded,” she said.  Sabaditsch-Wolff’s ACT associate at Capitol Hill, David Petteys, also described receiving “Brevik” shouts during one of his presentations in reference to the Norwegian mass murder Anders Behring Breivik often associated with anti-jihadists by their opponents.

Sabaditsch-Wolff concluded with the declaration that “nobody will shut me up” and “I will continue to speak out.”  Sabaditsch-Wolff encouraged others to join her at the OSCE, saying “you can do it” and there is “no need to be afraid.”  Likewise, Sabaditsch-Wolff said that “these fights were fun because some of them we won.” Others should emulate her courage, commitment, and good cheer in freedom’s struggles sure to come.

This article was sponsored by The Legal Project, an activity of the Middle East Forum.

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  • Samuel

    In Europe you can also be jailed for denying the Holocaust. If she was as brave as she says she should try saying anything bad about Jews and see how far that’ll get her

    • bribri

      Why is criticising Jews “brave”? Isn’t it rather random and silly, like criticising dentists, or Belgians, etc, UNLESS there’s an epidemic of terrorist Belgian dentists…?

    • tanstaafl

      Try being a Shia Muslim in Saudi Arabia. Or an Ahmadhi Muslim in Pakistan. Or, if you are brave, tell a group of your Muslim “friends” that the Prophet was a pedophile.

      • Manaphy

        hat doesn’t respond to Samuel’s statement. I don’t know if criticizing Europe’s holocaust denial policy would get her anywhere, but if sdid that then I am sure that FrontPageMag wouldn’t have said that she “fought for free speech”.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          Incitement is not always considered protected speech. It would depend on what she said. A lot of losers use lies about the holocaust to incite anger and violence against Jews.

          I’m not generally supporting of hate speech laws because we already have established that incitement is not protected. The standards for “hate speech” are too arbitrary and tend to favored the supposed “class victims” as defined by the crypto-communists and their partners.

    • deltamike67

      Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is rife in Europe, especially Sweden. In the UK, they actually denied entry to a student because he was Jewish!

      • Manaphy

        Antisemitism is virtually non-existent in Europe. Most Europeans have no problem with Judaism. However, anti-white and anti-European sentiments prevail throughout the Jewish community, most noticeably on this Jew-run website, where Europeans are constantly slandered with terms such as “antisemites” and “Islam-supporters” and even “racists”.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          “Antisemitism is virtually non-existent in Europe.”

          Ah, you’ve got that Islamic definition of Antisemitism.

          http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=anti-Semitism

          “However, anti-white and anti-European sentiments prevail throughout the Jewish community, most noticeably on this Jew-run website, where Europeans are constantly slandered with terms such as “antisemites” and “Islam-supporters” and even “racists”.”

          I’m going to have to ask you for a citation. At least one. Otherwise I’m assuming you just repeat the jihadi lies like so many other Jew-haters.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      “In Europe you can also be jailed for denying the Holocaust.”

      In theory yes, but it’s BS. In reality Muslims can say anything they want.

      Thanks for pointing out that disgusting state of affairs. And the law is unwise. There should be laws against incitement with reliable courts to process. But in reality you can’t get justice in Europe now that the barbarians are gathered. Not till there is a change in leadership.

      “If she was as brave as she says she should try saying anything bad about Jews and see how far that’ll get her”

      Meaning what? You’re full of bullshirt? Or do you mean that when righteous people get angry at liars, that upsets you as a jihadi? Seeing as how fundamental it is to lie as a jihadi, I understand your objections. Hopefully you also understand mine.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    Today’s intellectual fads in Europe often become tomorrows reality in America. Let’s support the brave woman in the fight for freedom of speech and conscience. No religion should be exempt from criticism. However, to exempt a political religion from criticism strikes at the root of the process necessary for a functioning democracy: free and open debate.

    • deltamike67

      if you start from the premise that Islam is a “religion” you lose! For us, it’s a matter of Article 6 of the Constitution, NOT the 1st Amendment and freedom of religion. Will we allow the Muslims to abrogate our Constitution with “hate speech” laws, or maintain our Freedom of Speech?

      • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

        A religion is a philosophy that takes the supernatural as a plank of its metaphysics and faith as a central component of its epistemology. Islam is clearly a religion but its more than that: it is first and foremost a political philosophy. Obviously a 7th century political philosophy and 7th century social thought would be faith-based and supernatural.

        The 1st amendment protects political speech aside from protecting freedom of conscience. Thus, even advocates of totalitarianism, such as communists were, are protected. They must be opposed with argument. We must be free to criticize any and all philosophies both secular and religious. This is especially true if the religion is appealed to as a basis of social and political actions.

        Article Six makes the constitution the supreme law of the land. Neither the Pope, the Bible, the United Nations, Justinian code, nor Sharia, can be appealed to as a basis of legal ruling.

        • 8ball

          I agree with you but I would argue more prosaically that no set of beliefs – whether it be Christianity, atheism, Islam, paternalism, feminism or, gawd forbid, Anthropogenic Global Warming – should be beyond intellectual attack and even ridicule.

          Muslims want to make it a crime to blaspheme Mohammed, yet Mohammed (and all Muslims) blasphemed Christ by claiming that He was merely a prophet. As a set of beliefs Islam is risible. Mohammed, their perfect man, wasn’t even a good man.

          • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

            Good points, 8ball.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          “The 1st amendment protects political speech aside from protecting freedom of conscience. Thus, even advocates of totalitarianism, such as communists were, are protected.”

          Their speech is generally protected, but they must still adhere to the law. If there is conflict with other laws, those protections are moot. People seem to think that agitating against the USA and inciting violence or lawbreaking is protected speech if you have a religious conviction.

          Maybe you’re aware of the distinctions, but not everyone is. Especially these days.

          “Article Six makes the constitution the supreme law of the land. Neither the Pope, the Bible, the United Nations, Justinian code, nor Sharia, can be appealed to as a basis of legal ruling.”

          Not directly. Obviously we’re not talking about worry that some jihadi is going to take a case to the supreme court and argue for changes to the constitution. The problem is they’re trying to break our laws, not work within them in good faith. They’re looking for loopholes and political end-runs.

          The future must not belong to those who attack US citizens and property because they don’t like our speech laws. Who said that? Nobody recently.

          “The future must not belong to those who slander prophet of Islam.” Who said that aside from the usual jihadis?

          Was 0′Bama free to say that? Yes. Was it treasonous? Probably, but not according to any strict interpretation of the law. Does it encourage jihadis to look for ways in?

          Is the US working with the UN on blasphemy laws? Yes they are.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/09/25/muslims-blasphemy-law-uk-un-mohammed-youtube_n_1912004.html

          What they probably think will work best is to get the UN to vote their way as they have in the past, and then argue that the UN has sovereignty over certain international matters, like international communications.

          It’s ridiculous, but it’s still something we must fight early before more people are deceived.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        It has religious and political elements. We can’t say that it’s not a religion, but we can say that Islam is totalitarian and not limited to individual religious activities. In the USA we protect individual liberties. We should not protect people from engaging in conspiracies to break our laws. There seems to be a lot of people are are deceived.

        Considering mosques as equally deserving of sanctity as a “place of worship” is the perfect example to show the problems. Sure, people lawfully worship there in a sense. But by Islamic law and custom these are also war rooms. They habitually store arms there and plan conspiracies against sovereigns. They’re obligated to do this.

        They should be treated as embassies, not churches. They should have the same privileges and limits of any embassy. That means we should not let them spring up as if they are mere places of worship. Because Islam is not merely a religion.

        Let them have a mosque in each of the major cities and restrict who can enter and so forth. In terms of having sanctuary, there’s no reason we should extend that concept to any group that is known to want to attack our sovereignty. Whether “religion” or not.

        What we’re doing now is equal to letting Japanese soldiers immigrate and build Shinto temples while WWII was still raging. Argue that we should not have interned them if you want, but for sure letting them build Shinto temples at the time would have been insanity. I’m sorry but I don’t think anyone would have thought for even a moment that that would be acceptable.

        We must be insane because we’re doing that now for a far more dangerous enemy.

  • http://historyscoper.com T.L. Winslow

    It’s almost funny to see once-proud Europe disintegrating under the invasion of the Muslim World, and people who once called themselves the superior master race stuck on nincompoop on such an easy subject with so much easily available educational material on the Internet. But it’s not funny, it’s tragic. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a nightmare with hordes of Allah Akbar-shouting white Euro Muslims attacking the U.S. and Israel one day. Maybe the U.S. is the New Constantinople, and Europe the New Ancient Rome, a geographical mirror image of what happened in the past, played out on the opposite side of the world. At least we have the comfort of knowing that Constantinople held out a thousand years, long enough for Western civilization to find a new home. Next time maybe it will be in space. Let me get started on the novel and I’ll check back with ya later :)

  • FalkoBaumgartner

    If the Muslim lobbyists were really serious about banning hate speech, they would be obliged to prohibit the Quran which is full of hateful speech against Christians, Jews, “infidels” and women. The first thing when dealing with Islamic lobbyists is to be not intimidated by their bullying tactics. The more they try to appear offended, the more one has hit the nail on the head and the more one should work these points.

  • Texas Patriot

    One by one the voices of truth are beginning to overcome the fear of reprisal by angry Muslims the pathetically impotent, incompetent, and irrational Western governments who host and support them, and to speak out against the 7th Century form of barbarism, theocracy, and thuggery that is rapidly sweeping across Europe and America.

  • Doger Trader

    please correct me if i am wrong…:

    i can see lately many signs that parts of western society is awakening to the fact that euroarabia scenario is real. there is an influx of web sites that arousing public opinion against the threat of radical islam.

    one thing i wonder – if i am not hanging out too much in sites that reflect my views

    -”convince the already convinced ones”