For many, the ability to express your own views freely is one of the most valuable achievements of our open, liberal democratic society. All citizens have (apparently) become free to criticise political and religious authorities without the fear of ending up in prison. Blasphemy is no longer considered a crime. But how have terrorist attacks influenced this hard-won liberty?
Since the decision of the Dutch broadcasting corporation VARA to cancel a spoof about the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini by the Dutch showmaster Rudi Carrell in 1987, freedom of expression has been under attack by religious fanatics. Two years after this “Carrell Affair”, the “Rushdie Affair” followed, and cartoons, both Danish and French, are now one of the most contested artistic expressions. Governments do not seem to have any idea how to deal with this delicate issue apart from admonishing restraint on the part of the cartoonists.
Does this mean that critical voices are resorting to self-censorship? This question will be dealt with by Paul Cliteur, Professor of Jurisprudence at Leiden University. He is a prominent contributor to the Dutch public debate, well-known for his defence of secular and liberal values. Recent publications by Cliteur include Bardot, Fallaci, Houellebecq en Wilders and The Fall and Rise of Blasphemy Law, in which he analyses how “theo-terrorists” have limited the freedom of expression by threatening and assailing critics of their religion. In this lecture, Cliteur will sketch some of the “affairs” in his lecture and discuss some of the remedies to bring this controversial matter to an end.
This event is free and open to everyone.