Review: Langer, Lorenz. Religious Offence and Human Rights: The Implications of Defamation of Religions. Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. lxii+419 pp. $115.00 (cloth)

Bharat Ranganathan, University of Nebraska at Omaha

“Accepted for publication and published by Journal of Religion on July 2016.” © 2016 by the Journal of Religion


In September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, including one in which a bomb was hidden under his turban. According to the paper’s cultural editor, Flemming Rose, the cartoons were an exercise in free speech, a value prized in liberal democracies. For him, fear of retaliation from Muslims was leading to self-censorship among Danish authors and artists. Muslim groups protested the cartoons not only within Denmark but also around the world, some of which turned violent. To their minds, the prophet (and members of their faith) had been defamed. Cases like this are neither isolated nor new; they have long obtained within religiously pluralistic societies. What sense should be made of them?