Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
In the fall of 2009, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff told the truth. The truth cost her much of her normal life. It cost her the realization that Austria, the country she had served, was not run based on law and liberty.
And It left her with a choice between paying a fine and going to prison.
That is the story that she tells in her book, The Truth Is No Defense. The title is taken from her odyssey through the European judiciary, beginning with a trial by the media, then by Austrian judges, by the Austrian Supreme Court, and finally by, the court of last resort, the European Court of Human Rights.
Elisabeth’s crime was famously telling the truth about Mohammed’s rape of Aisha, the little girl whom he “married”, and facing hate speech and then defamation of religion charges after a media hit piece. Even though everything Elisabeth described in her educational forums and in private remarks, secretly recorded by a tabloid hack, was sourced to the Koran, to Hadiths and to Islamic legal texts, particularly, the Reliance of the Traveler, the truth of what she was saying proved to be no defense.
Truth is no defense against charges of blaspheming against Islam, neither in Iran or Qatar, nor in Europe.
Many people know how Elisabeth’s story ended, in tribunal after tribunal, rigged proceedings which determined that Mohammed was not a pedophile because he raped grown women in addition to little girls, that the media inventing a quote by her did not constitute slander, and that protecting Islamic sensibilities was far more of a European value than reactionary notions like free speech or the truth.
Fewer know how it began, not in Europe, but in pre-revolutionary Tehran, where a young Elisabeth saw the Islamic revolution sweep away freedom for women under the black shroud of the chador and vicious cries of, “Allahu Akbar”, and then on to Kuwait, under Islamic law, where she fled Saddam’s invasion, and then, as a diplomat, returning to Kuwait and then onward to Libya.
A daughter of diplomats who went on to work at Austrian diplomatic facilities, Elisabeth was fortunate or unfortunate enough to be in the wrong places at the wrong times. She was in Tehran as the Islamic Revolution raged, in Kuwait when Iraqi tanks rolled in, and in Libya when Al Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Center. She was one of Saddam’s hostages, freed in a splashy press conference, after trying to escape in a convoy. And she watched the Islamic Revolution destroy the lives of family friends.
Elisabeth saw Sharia law, the brutal dictates of theocracy, up close in Islamic countries, and she also watched the collapse of secular spaces under the pressure of mobs and thugs stirred up by clerics. Her childhood took her from Austria to the streets of cities where giant portraits of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein loomed over daily life. And then she came to Vienna and watched it happen all over again, not in the Middle East, but in the placid comforts of Austria.
That is the story at the heart of The Truth Is No Defense. It is not only a foreboding tale of what happens to western countries faced with a choice between admitting the terrible mistake of their immigration policies and silencing those, like Elisabeth, who speak out against it, it is also a story of what the final product of these societies are like when there are soldiers in the streets, liquor must be smuggled, and Christians daring to lick stamps in public on Ramadan are threatened for violating the Islamic fast.
The Truth Is No Defense is really two stories. It is the story of Elisabeth growing up and coming of age in a world that other European girls had no idea even existed and it is the story of her as a mother in Austria fighting to protect her daughter and other girls from being married off at puberty, facing honor killings, female genital mutilation, burkas and hijabs, and all the other horrors girls endure under Islam.
The first is, appropriately enough, a bildungsroman, the story of a naïve girl caught between two worlds, full of sights and sounds, vignettes and diary entries, while the second is an adult journey of a different kind, through the court system and the court of public opinion, filled with quotes from the Koran, speeches and news stories. It’s a journey that many conservatives have undertaken, from naïve young people to adults slowly realizing that behind the stories they were told in school and by media lurks a terrible threat that no one else except them and a small group of people are able to see. And that warning anyone about the threat is punishable by social sanction, censorship, and imprisonment.
That is Elisabeth’s story. It’s personal, emotional and also thoroughly rational. It comes accompanied by reams of documentation, by accompanying essays by experts like Robert Spencer, Stephen Coughlin, and Clare Lopez, by a foreword by the American Freedom Alliance’s Karen Siegemund, and by Elisabeth’s own extensive research into Islamic texts, the entries of her lawyers, and fellow activists.
But, as Elisabeth makes clear, it’s not just her story. It’s our story.
Her numerous speeches delivered in America contain a common closing warning. Her experiences of Islamization and censorship, of a system that punishes blasphemy and disregards truth, are not just a European phenomenon. They are coming to America. And, in some ways, they are already here.
We should care. Or we will be made to care.
Throughout The Truth Is No Defense, Elisabeth retains her conviction that truth matters, not just as an abstract, but because it will determine the world in which her young daughter will grow up and live.
To her statist opponents, the truth is an inconvenience to be sacrificed for the hope of social harmony. Whether or not Mohammed molested a little girl is, to the Austrian judges and the media, a historical tidbit of no relevance to the present except that it excites the indignation of angry Islamic mobs. The gang rapes and sex grooming gangs, the polygamous marriages and child marriages, are never connected to their source in Islamic scripture and law. Those who do face arrests, fines, and prison.
Elisabeth’s story in The Truth Is No Defense is that of an ordinary person, despite her extraordinary childhood, fighting to tell the truth and warn of a threat, coming up against apathy and tyranny. It is also the story of how she fights to maintain her spirit and her conviction in a world that has gone mad.
The Truth Is No Defense is a powerful indictment of a corrupt system, but it is also a demonstration of how Elisabeth maintained her spirit in the face of a political witch hunt. It’s the story of her love for her daughter, for the truth, and for, America, where she had also spent part of her formative years studying the Constitution, and where she had found support and a forum during her persecution in Europe.
The truth may be no defense against Islam and the Left. But it is a vital defense for our spirits.
Totalitarian regimes seek to break not only the body, but the spirit, to convince those they abuse to love Big Brother, to accept that they are wrong, because everyone, seemingly, disagrees with them.
In The Truth Is No Defense, Elisabeth encounters persecution, the cancel culture of the era, and misunderstanding by family and friends, but she also finds solidarity and solace. Even in the face of a relentless threat and mass complicity, she discovers her own strength and finds hope.
The truth may be no defense in the kangaroo courts of the Left, but it is our best defense.
The Truth Is No Defense by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is available from New English Review Press.