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She laughed at the Bible. Poland will pay her 10,000 euros?

Published: 04.10.2022

Ordo Iuris

The European Court of Human Rights found that the conviction of Dorota "Doda" Rabczewska for contempting the Bible was… a violation of human rights. It is about the singer's provocative words, according to which the Scriptures "wrote down someone smeared with wine and smoking some herbs". Although the Polish court sentenced the celebrity to a fine of 5,000 PLN, and the Constitutional Tribunal (in the old composition) found it consistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, now Poland is to pay the singer 10 thousand. euro in redress.

Muslims must not be offended, and Christians?

The Court's case-law in this case is extremely inconsistent. Just three years ago, the same judges ruled that human rights were not violated by the punishment by the Austrian court of a woman who accused Muhammad of pedophile inclinations at a closed seminar on Islam, citing that an Islamic prophet had entered into a marriage with a 6-year-old girl, and - in keeping with Islamic tradition - he consumed this relationship when his young wife was 9 years old. Despite the fact that the woman referred to known historical facts in her speech, the ECtHR found that the statement constituted "a vile violation of the spirit of tolerance."

In a word, the Court stated that the Islamic prophet and author of the Muslim holy book cannot be offended (even if the statement has clear historical facts), but that the prophets and authors of the holy book for Christians and Jews can be offended with impunity (even if the statement has no basis , "Did not rely on serious sources" and "was intentionally frivolous and colorful in the interest of arousing interest").

It is possible to change the judgment

Fortunately, we can still try to change this judgment. Although the media do not mention this fact, the judgment of the ECtHR on Doda is not final. The Polish government can still appeal it by referring the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. That is why we have launched a petition on this matter and are working on a model of the appeal, which we will forward to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the past, an appeal to the Grand Chamber had already saved the right of European citizens to hang crosses in schools, which had initially been challenged by the Court's judgment in the Italian case of Lautsi. So there is something to fight for.

If there is a re-examination of the case by an enlarged Court, we will use our experience in many cases before the ECtHR and present the amcus curiae opinion to international judges. The Tribunal should - following previous judgments - confirm that freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to offend believers and their greatest sanctities, and the protection of believers also means protection of religious peace in Europe.

I believe that thanks to our commitment, it will be possible to reverse this scandalous sentence. The Strasbourg Court has many times followed our arguments, citing Ordo Iuris positions in its judgments. May it be so this time.

More effective protection of religious feelings needed

We are also involved in work on the amendment to the Criminal Code, which is to improve the protection of believers and places and objects of religious worship. The citizens' initiative committee has already met with us and received detailed suggestions to improve the project in the course of parliamentary work.

Until the regulations are effectively changed, our work focuses on numerous proceedings brought against perpetrators of particularly vulgar insults directed at images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Lord Jesus, or cases of disturbing Holy Masses or other religious celebrations. We also represent specific victims of violence motivated by hatred towards Christians.

The fight for a just, even symbolic, sentence for Doda is a fight for effective guarantees of the constitutional principle of religious freedom and freedom of worship. In 2015, the Constitutional Tribunal confirmed in the Doda case that the Constitution of the Republic of Poland guarantees the protection of religious feelings and allows for conviction for insulting them. Therefore, the judgment of the ECtHR is an attack on the Polish constitution and the right to sovereignly define by Poland the principles of legal protection of civil liberties.

Our reaction is important now. If we remain passive, the judgment of the ECtHR may encourage a wave of impunity attacks on everything that is sacred to us, and our freedom of religion will become a fiction.

Jerzy Kwaśniewski - president of Ordo Iuris

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