SHARE
COPY LINK

ISLAM

No reprisals for Frenchman who burned Koran

An appeals court on Tuesday confirmed the acquittal of a Frenchman accused of inciting racial hatred after posting an internet video of himself burning a Koran and then urinating on it.

Ernesto Rojas Abbate was arrested in October 2010 after posting footage of himself wearing a devil mask and tearing pages from the Islamic holy book before setting it on fire and later urinating on it to extinguish the flames.

Prosecutors, who had been seeking a three-month suspended sentence and €1,000 ($1,400) fine, appealed after a court acquitted him in May on charges of inciting racial hatred.

In the footage Rojas Abbate, a 31-year-old resident of a suburb of the eastern city of Strasbourg, used pages of the Koran as a prop in a simulation of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York.

He made paper airplanes from pages of the Koran, threw them at glasses meant to represent the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, then burned the pages and the book before urinating on them.

The appeals court ruled that, while the video was “wilfully outrageous and deliberately provocative”, there was no evidence Rojas Abbate had intended “to arouse feelings of hostility… aimed at provoking discrimination, hate, or violence towards Muslims.”

His lawyer, Renaud Bettcher, hailed the ruling, saying: “In a secular and republican society, it is incomprehensible that my client was prosecuted. Blasphemy does not exist in France.”

Police arrested Rojas Abbate after local Muslim leaders in Strasbourg reacted with outrage at the video.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ISLAM

Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.

SHOW COMMENTS