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written by
Arch Puddington
Vice President for Research

In 2006, in the midst of the furor over the publication of Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, Freedom House issued a statement that declared:

At the heart of the cartoon controversy is the right, now and in the future, of an independent and uncensored press—and artists and writers in other venues—to comment on the issues of the day without interference from the state or threat from discomfited or aggrieved groups.

We now find ourselves embroiled in yet another uproar over freedom of expression and the sensitivities of the Muslim world. While the level of violence provoked by the Innocence of Muslims thus far has been notably lower than was the case with the Danish cartoons or, especially, the publication of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, the response of the world’s political leadership has often been more disturbing than in the previous episodes.

Lebanese authorities banned the film "Green Days" directed by Hana Makhmalbaf, from being shown at the Forbidden Film Festival in Beirut, after Lebanese intelligence agencies and an Iranian ambassador pressured film festival organizers. The film, documenting the protests following the 2009 Iran presidential election, was banned in Iran and supposed to be shown at the Forbidden Film Festival, which is a part of the Beirut International Film Festival.

Civil Society, Freedom of Expression, Internet Freedom, Media Freedom
Middle East and North Africa, Middle East and North Africa

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