September 25, 2012, the same day that President Barack Obama declared in an address before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly that the “future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” (more analysis on the speech here), a legal team in Germany released a press statement concerning the charges against their client. This case, along with other recent developments in Germany, indicates just what future implications Obama’s concept of “slander” of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, can have worldwide for free expression and intellectual inquiry.
Available in German online at Politically Incorrect (PI), a German conservative website analogous in its critical treatment of Islam to Robert Spencer’s Jihadwatch in the United States, the press release of the “for the moment anonymous defense team” discusses the criminal charges brought by the state prosecutor in Marburg, Germany, against the “renowned” medical historian Professor Dr. Armin Geus. Geus faces prosecution under Section 166 of the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) against “Defamation of religions, religious and ideological associations.” The two paragraphs of this section sanction with a fine or imprisonment up to three years anyone who “defames the religion or ideology of others” or a “church or other religious or ideological association within Germany, or their institutions or customs in a manner that is capable of disturbing the public peace.” Geus’ prosecution followed a visit by the state security (Staatsschutz) section of the local police as, in the words of his lawyers, a “warning (or intimidation?),” but the Staatsschutz judged Geus as “unreasonable and uncooperative.”
State prosecutors view Geus liable under this section due to his book Die Krankheit des Propheten: Ein pathographischer Essay (The Sickness of the Prophet: A Pathographic Essay) distributed by the Basiliken-Presse, a small scholarly publishing firm founded by Geus in 1978. As an online review (also available at the book’s Amazon.com listing) by Geus’ fellow German academician, Professor Dr. Thomas Junker, discusses, Geus in his study “has examined and evaluated without ideological blinders and false deference the manifold indications of a severe psychic disturbance of the prophet” of Islam.
As Junker’s review analyzes, such speculation concerning Muhammad’s mental soundness go back to various charges by his opponents denied in the Koran itself. The Byzantine theologian and historian Theophanes the Confessor (760-818) also argued in a history written by him that Muhammad suffered from epilepsy. Contemporary works not discussed by Junker explore these themes as well, as in the 2008 book Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophetby Ali Sina, a Canadian-Iranian apostate from Islam who now condemns his former faith. Likewise, the Indian Sujit Das, who often writes for Sina’s anti-Islam website Faith Freedom International, has made available there for free download his 2010 PDF book Unmasking Muhammad: The Malignant Narcissist and His Grand Delusion Allah.
Junker notes in his review that the analysis of Geus and others “would shake the credibility of the Koran and throw up the question as to what extent the Muhammadan revelations differ from the inspirations of other prophets and from the hallucinations of psychiatric patients.” “Islam,” Junker explains, “rests in an entirely essential manner upon the credibility of its prophet.” “Because of this very reason every criticism of Islam, to be taken seriously, must concern itself with this neurological aspect.”
The book’s conclusion “on the basis of numerous indices” (Junker), as indicated by Geus’ title and cited by Junker, is that Muhammad indeed suffered under a “paranoid-hallucinatory schizophrenia with defined delusional imaginings and characteristic sensual deceptions.” Not only does Geus examine in his analysis the life of Muhammad, but also the characteristics attributed to what Junker describes as “Muhammad’s alter ego”, the Allah envisioned by Muhammad. The “resulting image” of Muhammad containing “serious character flaws” such as “ruthless self-referentiality, sadism, pedophilia,” and “petty-mindedness [Krämerseele]” (Geus) is “hardly flattering.” Junker appraises Die Krankheit des Propheten as a “brave, interesting, and important book that contributes much to a realistic estimation of Islam.” “Considering the widely disseminated reluctance” to critically evaluate Muhammad, Junker judges that Geus’ work “cannot be highly enough esteemed.”
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