Spanish Priest Faces Up To 3 Years In Prison For Criticising Islamic Extremism

A Spanish priest is facing up to three years in jail on hate crime charges for an article he wrote nearly eight years ago that criticized Islam.

Father Custodio Ballester and two other individuals received a summons from a provincial court in Spain to answer charges of an alleged “hate crime” for criticising Islamic extremism.

Catholic News Agency reports: If convicted, Ballester could be forced to pay a fine of more than $1,600 and serve up to three years in prison. The charges date back to 2020, when the Court Prosecutor’s Office in Catalonia accused Ballester of a “hate crime” based on what he wrote in a 2016 article titled The Impossible Dialogue with Islam‘.

Four years later, Ballester is still awaiting trial on criminal charges for criticising the faith that he says aims to “destroy” all those who refuse to recognise Mohammed as “the last and ultimate prophet of God”.

“I know Muslims who were not offended and understood perfectly well that I was not referring to them but to those who live Islam in a violent, radical way,” he told CNA. 

Ballester, 59, serves a parish in Barcelona within the archdiocese led by Bishop Juan José Omella. He has long been known for his pro-life activism.

“In Spain, ‘hate crime’ was invented and is directed at any speech that directly or indirectly refers to discrimination, encouragement of hostility, or inducement to violence,” Ballester told CNA. Previously, he pointed out, the criminal code was directed at whether someone had actually done something.

Asked whether he is prepared to spend three years in prison should he be convicted on the hate crime charges, Ballester said: “It doesn’t seem right to be convicted for something I’ve said, but in Spain anything is possible. But if I am convicted, this will no longer be Spain but Pakistan, where you can be killed for blaspheming the Koran or Mohammed.”

“There is no longer any true right to free speech in Spain,” Ballester said.


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