June 13, 2016

As Censorship Spreads Globally, Americans Stand Out for Support of Free Expression

Special to Diplomatic Courier

Comedians regularly offend, but rarely provoke international political crises. However, that is exactly what satirist Jan Böhmermann has done, by reading a profane poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on late night German television in March. Turkish authorities did not find much humor in Böhmermann’s scathing verse, and demanded that Germany charge him with violating an obscure German law against insulting foreign heads of state. Despite strong criticism at home and abroad, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has thus far allowed a criminal investigation of Böhmermann to proceed.

But Germany is far from the only country currently drawing ire from free speech advocates. Globally, threats to free speech are on the rise, and a host of recent studies by organizations such as Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and the Economist Intelligence Unit illustrate the ways governments around the world are cracking down on civil liberties and civil society.

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