Out of the Church and into the Courtroom – Former Polish Priest Jacek Międlar Found Guilty of Online Hate Speech
A nationalist ex-priest in Poland has been found guilty of insulting a liberal MP, to whom he directed a Twitter message accusing her of supporting killing and “Islamisation”, and suggesting that she would in the past have had her head shaved as a mark of punishment.
Jacek Międlar gave a sermon in Białystok, speaking against the “Jewish” mob that wanted to devour gentiles. His words shocked Nowoczesna MP Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, who reported him to the prosecutor.
The case never made it to court, as Mr Międlar argued successfully that his words had been taken out of context. But he then posted on Twitter accusing Ms Scheuring-Wielgus of being “an informant, supporter of killing (abortion) and Islamisation”. His tweet continued “there used to be the razor for such people”.
The razor comment refers to a Nazi German practice of shaving the heads of those who were accused of sleeping with non-Germans. Post-war France also used the punishment, to humiliate women accused of collaborating with the Nazi occupiers.
Warsaw judge Agnieszka Modzelewska found that Mr Międlar had not threatened the politician, but she did find him guilty of serious insult. The former priest was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence, with 30 hours of community service per month.
Speaking after the hearing, Ms Scheuring-Wielgus said she was satisfied with the result, which had drawn attention to the problem of internet hate crime. She told reporters: “The judge appealed to human dignity. This is very important. Everything starts with a word, and words, whether spoken face to face or written on the Internet, can lead to tragedy”.
Mr Miedlar’s lawyer announced that he will appeal the verdict. The ex-priest himself confirmed this, saying that the verdict “relativised” abortion and supported his claim that Islam was “evil”. He also accused the prosecutor in the case of being corrupt.
Mr Międlar hit the headlines recently when he was twice denied entry into the UK on the grounds of his record of hate speech.