Prague, Sept 21 (CTK) – A Czech court acquitted former Prague Muslim community chairman Vladimir Sanka of charges in the case of spreading a radical Islam book yesterday.
The case erupted after the police raided Prague Muslim centres in 2014.
Sanka, who was charged with supporting movements suppressing human rights and freedoms, faced up to ten years in prison if convicted. The state attorney demanded a three-year suspended sentence for him.
Yesterday’s verdict can be appealed. The state attorney appealed the verdict on the spot, and consequently, the appeals Municipal Court will deal with the case.
The case relates to the Czech edition of The Fundamentals of Tawheed by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a Muslim militant. In some countries, the book is banned and Philips must not enter several Western countries.
The annual report on extremism says the book promotes the ultra-conservative Salafist line of Islam that preaches intolerance and hatred of other religions.
The court was dealing with a fundamental question whether Salafism is a movement or an ideology and it concluded that it was an ideology. Consequently, the book does not promote a movement, court panel chairman Vladimir Hermann said.
“The penal law of this state cannot prosecute anyone for promoting an ideology, one can be prosecuted only for promotion of a particular movement. No movement is promoted in the book. This is basically the only reason on the basis of which the court issued an acquitting verdict,” Hermann said, justifying it.
According to the indictment, Sanka committed the crime by securing the translation, publication and distribution of the book, which the Centre of Muslim Communities seated in Prague published in 2012.
Sanka denied the charges and called them fabricated.
After the proceedings, Sanka told reporters that the court had decided justly. “I have never expected anything else. If the verdict had been different, it would have been the first case in history of a citizen of the Czech Republic being persecuted for his conviction,” Sanka said.
His defence was based on the criticism of the police procedure during the investigation and it claimed that the book was not radical and it dealt with one of the religious concepts within Islam.
State attorney Zdenka Galkova is opposed to it. She dismissed that is was a theological book. In her opinion, the book contains controversial passages on the enforcement of the sharia Islamic law and has anti-democratic features.
“I insist on that Salafism is a movement,” Galkova said, explaining the reasons for her appeal.
The police raided the premises of the Islamic Foundation in two buildings in Prague centre and on its outskirts on April 25, 2014, during the Friday prayers.
A number of participants in the prayers, including foreign diplomats complained about the police behaviour.
However, the Interior Ministry concluded that the raid had been in harmony with Czech law.