Czech court acquits defendant of disseminating radical Islamic book
Yesterday a court in the Czech Republic acquitted the former chair of the Prague Muslim Community, Vladimír Sáňka, of disseminating a radical Islamic book. According to the Prague 1 District Court, the book merely promotes an ideology, and it is not possible to criminally prosecute the promotion of an ideology.
The charges were brought after police raided Muslim centers in Prague in 2014. Sáňka faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted and the state prosecutor sought a three-year probation period for him.
The verdict has yet to take effect. The state prosecutor immediately appealed, so Prague's Municipal Court will review the case next.
The book at issue is a Czech translation of a work by Bilal Philips called The Fundamentals of TAWHEED (Islamic Monotheism). Its author is not allowed to travel to some Western countries and the book itself is banned in some states.
According to the Czech Interior Ministry's annual report on extremism, the book promotes the Salafist branch of the religion of Islam, which espouses hatred and intolerance for other religions. According to presiding Judge Vladimír Hermann, the court addressed the basic question of whether Salafism is an ideology or a movement.
The court came to the conclusion that Salafism is an ideology. The book, therefore, does not promote a movement.
"The Criminal Code of this state does not prosecute the promotion of ideology, only the promotion of specific movements. No movement is promoted in this book. That is basically the only reason the court has ruled to acquit the defendant," Hermann said today during a brief explanation of the verdict.
After police raided Muslim centers in Prague in 2014, Sáňka was accused of the crime of establishing, supporting and promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. Police alleged he had committed that crime by arranging for the translation, publication and distribution of the book.
Sáňka has objected to his indictment all along and considers the charges to have been trumped-up against him. Speaking to journalists after the hearing, he said the court had made a fair and fitting decision.
"I never anticipated any other outcome. If this verdict had been different, it would have been the first case in history in which a citizen of the Czech Republic was persecuted for his convictions," Sáňka said.
The publisher's defense was built on critiquing police procedure during the investigation of the case. The defense also alleged that the book is not radical and that it just discusses one of the schools of thought within the framework of the religion of Islam.
State prosecutor Zdeňka Galková disagreed. She objected to the characterization of the book as a work of theology.
In her opinion, the book contains controversial passages about the necessity of promoting Sharia law and exhibits anti-democratic features. "I insist that Salafism in a movement," she said when explaining why she had immediately appealed the verdict.
In 2014, police raided buildings belonging to the Center of Muslim Communities in the Czech Republic, the Muslim Community of Prague, and the Islamic Foundation, both in the Černý Most neighborhood and near Wenceslas Square in the center of Prague. The raid was conducted during Friday prayers, which are of particular significance to Muslims.
Many participants in the prayer service, including foreign diplomats, complained about the raid. They did not like the fact that police forced them to lie face down on the ground, and eyewitness testimonies stated that the officers aimed weapons at them as well.
The Czech Interior Ministry found the raid to have been in order. The courts subsequently refused to hear a lawsuit from the Center of Muslim Communities seeking the finding from the court that the raid had violated their rights by disrupting their religious worship.
- Czech officials disperse assembly for disparaging Islam
- Czech court says police must further investigate ultra-right activist's hate speech about Muslims
- Czech Republic: Muslims attend Catholic mass in Prague, condemn violence
- Czech Muslims hold public event to condemn terrorism
- Czech Radio: Political scientist says Europe is not the epicenter of political violence, but anti-Muslim hate is spreading there
- Czech NGO whose head spreads hatred against Muslims and refugees will continue to work with Govt Agency for Social Inclusion
- Czech Interior Ministry not allowing party to add "Bloc against Islam" to its name
- Blog administrator at Czech daily gets death threats after shutting down "Bloc against Islam" bloggers
- Commentary: Czech conference of Islamophobes moved from the Senate to a hotel
- Czech Interior Ministry says ultra-right is being pushed out of the public space by Islamophobes using same rhetoric
- Czech event brings atheists, Christians, Jews and Muslims to the same table
- Czech Republic: Unidentified assailants break mosque windows
- Czech anti-Muslim group tries to incite Roma against Muslims
- Commentary: Invisible Romani victims and an anti-Muslim crusade
- "Je suis Charlie" and "I like moderate Muslims"
- Czech Muslims plan Constitutional complaint over raid on mosque
- Czech Foreign Ministry says police raid on mosques was in order
- Czech Republic: Indonesian Embassy complains about police raid on mosque
- Czech Police raid mosque, charge man with disseminating racism
- Czech Police never found mosque vandal
- Czech Republic: Mosque defaced with bones and pork
- Regional authority in Czech Republic financially supports anti-mosque movement
- New guidebook on children aging out of institutional care hopes to make their transition to adulthood easier in the Czech Republic
- First Roma Library to open in Sweden, with literature in different dialects of Romanes by Romani authors and books on Romani culture in Swedish
- First Czech translation of Holocaust survivor Philomena Franz's memoirs being released
- Radek Bangas new book alleges he was abused as a child, his twin brother remembers things differently
- Czech bodybuilder's fine upheld for approving of Romani man's murder, he says he will appeal again
- Commentary: Work on antisemitism by US professor reminds us of antigypsyism in the Czech Republic today
- Romani activist, journalist, poet and translator Jan Döme Horváth has passed away in the Czech Republic
- Czech Police investigate distribution of antisemitic book after media reports
- Czech gunman who murdered Romani man in his own vehicle will serve 10 years
- Lawyer on groundbreaking Czech court finding: Courts must consider hate crime victims' perspectives now
- Romafuturismo Library moves to northern Czech town of Most with new name: The Josef Serinek Library
- Czech courts definitively acquit publisher of Salafist book of promoting a movement against human rights