VIENNA, Austria - Burning Korans and criticizing religions may generate anger in America, but it's still freedom of speech guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. However in Europe, speaking out against Islam can lead to a jail sentence.
CBN News interviewed one Austrian citizen facing hate crimes charges for criticizing the Koran.
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff still remembers her first exposure to Islam as a small child. It was 1979 and her father, an Austrian diplomat, was stationed in Tehran during the Iranian revolution.
"Millions of people were congregating and screaming 'Allahu Akhbar,'" she said.
That incident began an eye-opening journey for Sabaditsch-Wolff, who would be stationed in several Islamic countries during her own diplomatic career. She was living in Libya nine years ago when the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. occurred.
"My landlord came running down, banging on my door. And I opened the door and he ran inside my apartment and said, 'The Jews did it!' That was the first words he said," she recalled.
Experiences like that led her to study the Koran and Islamic culture extensively.
"I've read the Koran. I've studied the books from both sides -- the pro and the con. And I can tell you from what I've studied -- Islam is a political ideology disguised as a religion."
Back in her home country of Austria, Sabadistch-Wolff lectured on the subject and her comments on the Koran outraged a writer for a left-wing Austrian magazine.
"She took it to her editor and they apparently then decided they would take it to the lawyer and take it to the public prosecutor's office," Sabadistch-Wolff noted.
The Vienna prosecutor charged her with hate speech against Islam. She told CBN News she merely quoted directly from the Koran. (...)