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ECtHR / Application no. 34367/14 / Belkacem v. Belgium

Country

BelgiumBelgium

Title

ECtHR / Application no. 34367/14 / Belkacem v. Belgium

View full Case

Year

2017

Decision/ruling/judgment date

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Crime type(s) concerned/related

Incitement to violence or hatred

Related hate bias motivation

Religion

Groups affected

Other religious groups Muslims

Court/Body type

European Court

Court/Body

European Court of Human Rights, ECHR

Key facts of the case

The case concerned the conviction of Mr Belkacem, the leader and spokesperson of the organisation “Sharia4Belgium”, which was dissolved in 2012, for incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence on account of remarks he made in YouTube videos concerning non-Muslim groups and Sharia.

The Court noted that in his remarks he had called on viewers to overpower non-Muslims, teach them a lesson and fight them. The Court considered that the remarks in question had a markedly hateful content and that Mr Belkacem, through his recordings, had sought to stir up hatred, discrimination and violence towards all non-Muslims.

Main reasoning/argumentation

The Court was in no doubt as to the markedly hateful nature of Mr Belkacem’s views, and agreed with the domestic courts’ finding that the applicant, through his recordings, had sought to stir up hatred, discrimination and violence towards all non-Muslims. In the Court’s view, such a general and vehement attack was incompatible with the values of tolerance, social peace and non-discrimination underlying the Convention.

Is the case related to the application of the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, the Racial Equality Directive?

Key issues (concepts, interpretations) clarified by the case

With particular reference to Mr Belkacem’s remarks concerning Sharia, the Court reiterated that it had ruled that the fact of defending Sharia while calling for violence to establish it could be regarded as “hate speech”.

The Court considered that Mr Belkacem had attempted to deflect Article 10 of the Convention from its real purpose by using his right to freedom of expression for ends which were manifestly contrary to the spirit of the Convention. Accordingly, the Court held that, in accordance with Article 17 of the Convention, Mr Belkacem could not claim the protection of Article 10.

Results (sanctions, outcome) and key consequences or implications of the case

The Court therefore rejected the application, finding that it was incompatible with the provisions of the Convention and that Mr Belkacem had attempted to deflect Article 10 of the Convention from its real purpose by using his right to freedom of expression for ends which were manifestly contrary to the spirit of the Convention.

Key quotation in original language and translated into English with reference details

The Court noted at the outset that, while its case-law enshrined the overriding and essential nature
of freedom of expression in a democratic society, it also laid down its limits by excluding certain
statements from the protection of Article 10 of the Convention. In the Court’s view, such a general and vehement attack was incompatible with the values of tolerance, social peace and non-discrimination underlying the Convention. With particular reference to Mr Belkacem’s remarks concerning Sharia, the Court
reiterated that it had ruled that the fact of defending Sharia while calling for violence to establish it could be regarded as “hate speech”.

DISCLAIMERThe information presented here is collected under contract by the FRA's research network FRANET. The information and views contained do not necessarily reflect the views or the official position of the FRA.