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‘So to Speak’ Podcast: Flemming Rose and ‘The Tyranny of Silence’

Flemming Rose didn’t set out to put himself at the center of one of the biggest free speech controversies in recent memory, but 12 years ago he found himself in just that position.

In 2005, Rose commissioned and published what are now widely known as “the Muhammad cartoons.” The cartoons were his way of exploring the issue of self-censorship surrounding Islam and, in particular, its Prophet Muhammad.

What came next “shook the world.”

Protests against the cartoons resulted in an estimated 200 reported deaths; there were attacks on the offices of Rose’s employer, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten; and Rose was placed on Al-Qaeda’s hit list. To this day, he must be accompanied by a security detail when he appears in public.

Flemming Rose is our guest on today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast. During the show, we discuss the cartoon controversy and how his thoughts on free speech are informed by his background as a western journalist in the Soviet Union. We also talk about his 2014 book on the cartoon controversy, The Tyranny of Silence.

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