Ytringsfrihed i det multikulturelle Storbritannien: Ytringsfrihedens udfordringer i et multikulturelt samfund

Anne Højgaard Kafton Jørgensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Freedom of speech is regarded as an important value of democracy but several events in the recent years has proved it to be under pressure due to different opinions of whether or not it should be restrained. Furthermore, the multicultural approach to integration, which is applied in Great Britain, is based on supporting minority cultures to thrive in the society. This can create an issue when part of a minority culture such as the Muslim population in Great Britain holds opposing opinions regarding the values of democracy. This paper examines the challenges faced by freedom of speech in the multicultural society of Great Britain, and searches for solutions for how to secure this value in the future. The examination is based on the case of Salman Rushdie and his publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988, which was the cause of strong opposition among Muslims due to disparaging references to Islam and the prophet Muhammed. Moreover, the development of the multicultural approach in Great Britain is reviewed as well as the arguments of the opponents and proponents of this approach along with scientific researches to examine these arguments. In order to answer the research question, the case was analyzed through the theories of John Stuart Mill, Joel Feinberg, Kai Sørlander and Bassam Tibi. The theories of the former two concentrate on freedom of speech and offers principles on how to decide when it should be restrained. The theories of the latter two focus on the separation between religion and politics as well as the compatibility of Islam and democracy. They also discuss the multicultural approach and criticize the way this approach deals with integration. 2 The analysis and discussion of the case show that a significant part of the British Muslims wish to restrict freedom of speech and some even sympathize with violence in order to obtain this restriction. Sørlander clarifies how Islam is vulnerable when it comes to freedom of speech, because the Quran and the words of the prophet Muhammed is regarded as a literal repetition of the words of Allah, which also explains why Muslims reacted so strongly to the publication of The Satanic Verses. Their objective was to prohibit the book but both Mill and Feinberg give evidence to why their theories could not have justified a prohibition. The authorities of Great Britain did not find basis for a prohibition either, even though their legislation on freedom of speech contains several cautious restrictions, which are not justifiable by Mill and Feinbergs theories. However, the statements regarding the book relating to foreign policy displayed a more cautious attitude, which is explained with Tibis term islamophobia. This term is utilized in order to avoid criticism of Islam and is enabled by the victimization of Muslims, which is a result of the multicultural lack of integration requirements in an attempt to be open and accommodation. Furthermore, the multicultural approach neglects to emphasize common values and norms resulting in substantial differences between the British Muslims and the general public in terms of values. The multicultural approach has also caused the growth of segregated societies which has made radicalization of young British Muslims possible. Thus, the assignment concludes that freedom of speech faces considerable challenges in the multicultural society of Great Britain, due to the fact that a large part of the British Muslims wishes to restrict this value. At the same time the multicultural approach applied in the country undermines the democratic values of liberty. In order to secure freedom of speech in the future the assignment recommends a new approach of integration, proposed by Tibi, focusing on the common liberal values as well as a composite European and Islamic identity.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages79