Spain: Priest Could Spend 3 Years in Prison for His Criticism to Radical Islam

Fr. Ballester is accused of hate crime due to his 2016 article, titled “The impossible dialogue with Islam”. He highlights the brutal persecution of Christians in predominantly Islamic countrie. In his opinion, both the Quran and in the life of Muhammad contain elements of violence. 

 

Editorial (03/13/2024 10:33, Gaudium Press) This is the story of Fr. Custódio Ballester who, last February, received a summons from a regional court in Spain to respond to charges of an alleged “hate crime” for his criticisms of Islam. He faces a possible sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of more than $1,600 if found guilty.

It all began in 2020 when the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Málaga, led by María Teresa Verdugo, accused Fr. Ballester of having committed a hate crime due to an article published in 2016, titled “The impossible dialogue with Islam”.

In the said article, Fr. Ballester expresses his personal views, emphasizing that people should not be despised or persecuted for their beliefs and thoughts. However, he also states that one cannot “put our faith in hibernation so that it does not conflict with the pro-green dogma and with the ideology that declared war on our faith, and also on people. In countries where Muslims hold power, Christians are brutally persecuted and murdered. So, what kind of dialogue are we talking about? And the crucial question is that, to be proponents of dialogue, we not only need to silence our faith ‘out of prudence’, but we also need to bow to their faith. This is the new style of the current era: dialogue not only with Islam (with the Islamic faith), but also with the new social and moral engineering and its aberrations. That’s where it’s headed!”

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He highlights the brutal persecution of Christians in predominantly Islamic countries and, in his opinion, there are elements of violence in the Quran and in the life of Muhammad.

As a result, the cleric now faces the possibility of serving three years in prison.

Fr. Ballester reacts

The priest’s goal, in his own words, was to provide a criterion for people to judge. He argues that he knows Muslims who were not offended because they understood that his criticisms were not directed at all, but rather at those who live Islam in a violent and radical way.

He commented that prosecutor Verdugo sought to incriminate him in a non-objective manner, quoting separate parts of his article, taking them out of context, and distorting them: “She took what could incriminate me. Because of my priestly condition, I am more guilty because, when I speak, people follow me. I consider myself a respectful person. I respect Muslims and ask that they also respect me.”

In statements to CNA, the presbyter responded if he would be willing to serve the three years in prison: “It seems unfair to be condemned for something I said, but in Spain, everything is possible. If I am condemned, I will no longer be in Spain, but in Pakistan, where blaspheming against the Quran or Muhammad can result in the death penalty.”

“In Spain, the right to freedom of speech is no longer fully guaranteed,” added the priest.

Compiled by Gustavo Kralj

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