French court acquits blogger who was ‘only having some fun’ when burning and urinating on Qur’an

A French court on Monday acquitted a blogger of a charge of provoking discrimination related to burning a copy of the Qur’an in an internet broadcast and urinating on the book.

The court in the north-eastern city of Strasbourg found that Ernesto Rojas Abbate had been acting within the boundaries of freedom of expression when he used the Qur’an as a prop in a simulation of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on New York.

Filming himself with a webcam on October 2, Abbate made a paper aircraft with pages from the Qur’an and launched it at two glasses representing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. He then burnt the aircraft and the book and urinated on them, to “quench the flames”.

The Mosque of Strasbourg and a local anti-racism organisation had pressed charges against the 30-year-old from the town of Bischheim close to Strasbourg. But the court ruled the video was aimed at terrorist acts and not the wider Muslim community, which “could not be assimilated with the terrorist acts”.

The man told the court he had only been having some fun and that he had nothing against Islam. He said he had been responding to a dare following the burning by US pastor Terry Jones of a copy of the Qur’an.

News 24, 9 May 2011

See also Saphir News, 9 May 2011