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Cultural Diplomacy and Human Rights

Freedom of Speech Limited in Democracy?

Erna Hennicot-Schoepges (Vice Chairman of the ICD Advisory Board; Former Luxembourgian Minister of Culture & Religious Affairs). 

The turmoil created by a poem written by Nobel prizewinner Günter Grass has had some astonishing reactions. He was called an anti-Semite and forbidden to cross the border to Israel after he expressed an open concern on nuclear weapons, not only those presumed to be upgraded in Iran. Whereas the New York Times did not publish his text, European newspapers are dealing with many controversial comments, some insulting the German writer in a very crude way. Whatever may be the background of his thoughts, the political situation in the Middle East has so far grown to a worldwide danger, not only since Mr. Grass has written down what many are thinking, without daring to say it. Yet the conflict in Syria, and the future role of Iran is the real challenge for reestablishing peaceful governance in the region. Sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and the European Union severely hit the population of a country, whose citizens did not succeed in their peaceful revolution some years ago. Low support has been given to those who tried to switch to a modern democratic governance in Iran. Limiting freedom of speech is an inadequate reaction and the ban of the writer’s mobility to Israel is called an “overreaction” by the government.


Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy


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