A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word “Koran” on toilet paper and offering it to mosques.
The 61-year-old man, identified only as Manfred van H., was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, a district court in the western German town of Luedinghausen ruled.
The conviction comes after a Danish newspaper printed cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad — sparking violent protests around the world from Muslims who saw the images as sacrilegious and an attack on their beliefs.
Manfred van H. printed out sheets of toilet paper bearing the word “Koran” shortly after a group of Muslims carried out a series of bomb attacks in London in July 2005. He sent the paper to German television stations, magazines and some 15 mosques.
Prosecutors said that in an accompanying letter Manfred van H. called Islam’s holy book a “cookbook for terrorists.” He also offered his toilet paper for sale on the Internet at a price of 4 euros ($4.76) per roll, saying the proceeds would go toward a “memorial to all the victims of Islamic terrorism.”
The maximum sentence for insulting religious beliefs under the German criminal code is three years in prison.
While this may not be happening in America, it is happening in a Western nation where they are supposed to value freedom of speech and tolerance. While I believe Manfred’s actions were foolish, being jailed for them is just plain scary. More and more we are seeing people being censured in Western countries from criticizing other religions (besides Christianity of course, which is always fair game) or homosexuality. I fear for the future of the freedom of speech, and the freedom of expression. The new religion in town is pluralism, whose moral code is relativism, and whose only law is the acceptance of every view as equally valid.