The man, identified in print only as Arne S., attended a demonstration on June 8, 2012, in Ostend, Belgium, before retiring to a café. There Arne exchanged words with a dozen Muslims and tore apart a Koran before them. As described in a Belgian press account, Arne's counsel at trial claimed that the Muslims had thrown the "sacred book" at Arne, striking him in the head. Arne's lawyer, Olivier Ryde, thus claimed that no infraction of Belgium's law on hate speech had occurred. No reports of assault charges against the Muslims have appeared.
Arne's case demonstrates that Belgium, like many other European countries, has laws against what is commonly called "hate speech." In particular, Article 22 of the Belgian Law of May 10, 2007, Aiming to Struggle Against Certain Forms of Discrimination, prohibits incitement of hatred, discrimination, violence, and/or segregation against persons of various protected classes in public settings defined by Article 444 of the Belgian Penal Code. Article 3 of the May 10, 2007, laws defines these protected classes
based upon age, sexual orientation, civil state, birth, fortune, religious or philosophical conviction, political conviction, trade union views, language, actual or future state of health, handicap, physical or genetic characteristic, or social origin.