Free Speech or Hate Speech? The Danish Cartoon Controversy in the European Legal Context



By now, most people know the story of the Danish Cartoon Controversy. A Danish author claimed he had trouble finding an artist to draw the prophet Muhammad for a children’s book he was writing. The editors of the conservative Jyllands-Posten newspaper believed that Muslims had succeeded in cowing illustrators and imposing a taboo that had no rightful place in a liberal democracy. So they asked the newspaper illustrators’ union for images in order to uphold the value of free speech. On September 30, 2005, they published 12 illustrations under the heading “The Face of Muhammad.” The reactions over the ensuing months ranged from protests and lawsuits within Denmark and Europe to boycotts, burned flags, and ransacked embassies abroad. The political manipulation of these depictions also generated violent unrest that led to over 200 deaths across the Muslim world (Hansen and Hundevadt 2008; Klausen 2009).


Free Speech Hate Speech Holocaust Denial European Jurisdiction Religious Hatred 
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© Kavita R. Khory 2012

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