Now, as regular readers will be aware, I'm not totally in tune with Ms Winters. I'm not temperamentally averse to living under a theocracy where the head of state is, under God, also the head of the state religion. A light-touch theocracy, where divorce and adultery are frowned on (and career-wreckers), outraging public decency in the theatre, cinema, newspaper or television attracts severe and immediate sanction, the differences between the sexes are acknowleged, blasphemy or profaning the holy day are punished, where abortion and attempted suicide are illegal. After all, I lived under just such a theocracy until the late 60s. The Queen is still officially head of the Church of England, it's just that the Church seems to have dropped Christianity.
Last Wednesday another European politician living under police protection following Muslim death threats, was convicted by a court in Austria to a suspended jail sentence of three months and a fine of 24,000 euros.
Susanna Winter, a member of the Austrian Parliament, came to the court room in Graz under heavy police protection to defend herself against allegations of “inciting racial hatred and degradation of religious symbols and religious agitation.” In January 2008, Mrs. Winter, a member of the Austrian Freedom Party FPÖ, said that the prophet Muhammad was “a child molester” because he married a six-year-old girl. She also said Muhammad was “a warlord” who had written the Koran during “epileptic fits.” The politician added that Islam is “a totalitarian system of domination that should be cast back to its birthplace on the other side of the Mediterranean.” She also warned for “a Muslim immigration tsunami,” saying that “in 20 or 30 years, half the population of Austria will be Muslim” if the present immigration policies continue.
Following these remarks, Muslim extremists threatened to kill Mrs. Winter, who was subsequently placed under police protection. “I do not feel guilty of racial incitement,” Mrs. Winter told the court. The judge, however, disagreed. He told the elected member of parliament: “You have only one goal: to gain votes by a despicable method, by appealing to xenophobic feelings.” The judge also argued that it is impossible to write during epileptic fits.
Trouble is I'm not sure the only theocracy currently on offer is a terribly light-touch one. And I think that's what Ms Winter's worried about, too.