The Economist: A history of free expression charts its seesawing progress


Repression leads to liberalisation and vice versa, says Jacob Mchangama

Free Speech. By Jacob Mchangama. Basic Books; 528 pages; $32 and £25

Aglobal firestorm erupted in 2005 after the publication in a Danish newspaper of 12 provocative cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Jacob Mchangama, a Dane and then a young lawyer, was dismayed. In the Muslim world he watched states that rarely allowed protest of any kind encourage violent demonstrations. Those governments also redoubled their diplomatic efforts to define “defamation of religions” as a human-rights violation that should be banned everywhere.

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