The violence that followed the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in several European newspapers has raised questions about European models of social integration and underscored that their debates at home can have dramatic implications abroad. The story has also raised questions about freedom of the press and self-censorship in the media. In a world threatened by a clash of civilizations, does freedom of the press include the right to offend the most sacred beliefs of others? In a time of fundamentalist terrorism, can we allow violence and the threat of violence to determine the content of our speech?
To examine these issues, the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution and the Heinrich Böll Foundation hosted a panel on The Mohammed Cartoons: European Society and Freedom of the Press. Commentary was provided by Ammar Abdulhamid, Visiting Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy; Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, Die Zeit; David Ignatius, The Washington Post; and Claus Christian Malzahn, Der Spiegel. The briefing was moderated by Philip Gordon, Director of the Center on the United States and Europe.
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