The European Court of Human Rights and Free-Speech Schizophrenia

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a supranational tribunal based in Strasbourg, France, which was set up in the framework of the Council of Europe, is increasingly determining important speech cases involving Islam-related topics.  This Court's jurisdiction covers alleged violations of human rights, as enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights, by the states-parties.  Unlike cases in a European nation's courts, a case before this court may be triggered either by individuals, provided that the latter have exhausted their domestic remedies, or by another state acting as a party.  Technically, the ECHR is empowered to grant individuals more protection than they are legally entitled to enjoy based on their own states' laws.  In practice, however, the ECHR rarely provides additional speech protection.  This is especially so when it deals with the very sensitive issue of "religious sentiment" -- which is not a human right present in the...(Read Full Article)