(TO WHAT EXTENT)
IS CENSORSHIP DEFENDABLE?
Croatia, Zagreb IB
Made by: Merve Demirbas, Valnea Skansi, Toni Nogolica
Censorship and its forms
Censorship takes many forms; the more obvious
issues like religion, morality and military
&politics are the easiest to spot and deal with.
Censorship by religion is defined as the act of suppressing views that are contrary of those of an organized
religion. It is the means by which any material objectionable to a certain faith is removed. This often involves a
dominant religion forcing limitations on less prevalent ones.
It is a form of censorship where freedom of expression is controlled or limited using religious authority.
This form of censorship is practiced in many societies, by many religions.
Censorship and the ideology supporting it go back to ancient
times. Every society has had customs, taboos, or laws by
which speech, play, dress, religious observance, and sexual
expression were regulated.
Greek vs. Roman Censorship
In Athens, where democracy first flourished, Socrates: In Rome only people in authority enjoyed the privilege
of speaking freely.
• preferred to sacrifice his life rather than accept
censorship of his teachings • Public prosecution and punishment occurred
• defended free discussion as a supreme public
service. • The Roman poets Ovid and Juvenal were both
• formulated a philosophy of intellectual freedom.
• Authors of seditious or scurrilous utterances or
writings were punished.
Ironically, his disciple Plato was the first philosopher to • The emperor Caligula, for example, ordered an
formulate a rationale for intellectual, religious, and offending writer to be burned alive, and Nero
artistic censorship. deported his critics and burned their books.
In the 5th century BC, the Athenian philosopher The far-flung Roman Empire lasted for some four
Anaxagoras was punished for impiety; Protagoras, centuries due to maintaining a policy of toleration
another leading philosopher, was charged with toward the many religions and cults of the diverse
blasphemy, and his books were burned. nations and races it ruled.
These instances of repression and persecution in The only demand made was that Roman citizens, as a
Athens were not truly typical of Greek democracy, for political act, worship the imperial person or image;
usually the freedom to speak openly in private or in beyond that, all citizens were free to worship their
the assembly was respected. own gods and to observe their own rites and rituals.
To Jews and early Christians, however, emperor or
image worship was idolatry, and they refused to obey.
They were persecuted and frequently martyred for
their religious beliefs.
Roman Catholic vs. Protestant Censorship
Roman Catholic vs. Protestant
-Books or sermons that were opposed to The Protestant Reformation did not itself
orthodox faith or morals were erect a change in the practice of
-Their authors were punished. Its leaders—among them John Calvin,
-The first catalog of forbidden books was John Knox, and Martin Luther—claimed
issued by Pope Gelasius in 496. liberty of conscience and toleration only
for themselves and their followers.
-Individual heretical books were
subsequently forbidden by special papal When in power, they too attempted to
edicts. suppress all deviation from their own
brands of orthodoxy; they persecuted
• Censorship in this period was concerned Protestant heretics and Roman
primarily with suppressing heresy. Catholics.
• For the purpose of punishing all such The English poet John Milton protested
manifestations, Pope Gregory IX against such censorship in his classic
instituted the Inquisition in 1231. essay Areopagitica (1644).
• For almost 500 years the Inquisition Many English people associated licensing
remained an influential agency of by church censors with ecclesiastical
religious censorship. supervision, the Inquisition, and
restraints on religion, education, and
Censorship in the Modern World
The 18th century—a beginning that reflects the influence of the Age of
Enlightenment and the American and French revolutions.
Although the new spirit of liberty was first felt in the area of religious
belief, it rapidly affected political life, science, and literature. The United
States, France, and England set the pattern and the pace. The Declaration
of Independence (1776), the U.S. Constitution (1787) with its Bill of Rights
(1789-1791), and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the
Citizen (1789) became models for the modern world.
In England Roman Catholics were freed of all disabilities in 1829; Jews
achieved the same freedom in 1858.
In modern democratic countries, certain basic constitutional
principles are generally accepted:
• A person's religious beliefs and forms of worship are matters of
strictly private conscience, into which no government act or
official may intrude;
• No religious requirements may be stipulated for any public
office or benefit; and the state and religion are independent of
• The principles have established peaceful relations between the
government and religious systems in truly democratic societies.
• The situation was quite different in Communist countries such
as the USSR, where religion was not at all, or only grudgingly,
recognized, and atheism was the established ideology.
• Another exception is the kind of theocracy established in Iran
after the 1979 revolution with the institution of an Islamic
In England religious conflict bred general intolerance, which resulted in
censorship that embraced political as well as religious expression. At a
time when religion dominated society, every aspect of life was necessarily
subject to official control.
In 1662, for instance, a licensing act created a surveyor of the press who
had power to investigate and suppress unauthorized publications.
The Toleration Act and the Bill of Rights in 1689 dealt with important
personal liberties but said nothing about freedom from censorship. To
publish an unfavorable opinion of the government was still a “seditious
As the 18th century began, however, English newspapers became more
numerous, books on a greater variety of subjects were published, and
arbitrary censorship was slowly reduced.
Freedom of the press came about gradually as a result of judicial
decisions and popular opposition to political oppression.
One U.S. industry, the film industry, has for many years practiced a form
of self-censorship. A system of film classification was begun in 1968 in
which films were given ratings, as G (general audiences), PG(parental
guidance advised), PG-13(may not be suitable for preteens), R(under age
17 not admitted unless accompanied by parent), NC-17(under age 17 not
In the U.S. many different private groups attempt to influence
government agencies, businesses, libraries, radio and television
broadcasters, newspapers, and other communications media to suppress
material that they consider objectionable. Religious, ethnic, and racial
groups have tried to prevent plays, movies, and television programs from
being presented because of elements they deem offensive.
It is based on…
Religious censorship is usually
performed on the grounds of
blasphemy, heresy, sacrilege or impiety
– the censored work being viewed as
obscene, violating a religious taboo.
In modern times,
Until recently, censorship was firmly
established in various institutional
periodicals, forms in even the most advanced
television and democratic societies.
By the mid-20th century, a
media for the
revolutionary change in social attitudes
altering or weakened its existence, however, not
parts thought to all forms of censorship have been
or offensive. eliminated universally.
Censorship In Islam : Jyllands-Posten Muhammad
The controversial cartoons of Muhammad, as they were first published in Jyllands-
Posten in September 2005 (English version). The headline, "Muhammad's ansigt",
means "The face of Muhammad".
The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began after twelve
editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic prophet
Muhammad, were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on
30 September 2005. The newspaper announced that this publication was
an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and
Danish Muslim organizations, who objected to the depictions, responded
by holding public protests attempting to raise awareness of Jyllands-
Posten's publication. Further examples of the cartoons were soon
reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries, further
deepening the controversy.
This led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated
into violence with police firing on the crowds (resulting in more than 100
deaths, all together).
Some critics of the cartoons described them as Islam phobic or racist, and argued that they are
blasphemous to people of the Muslim faith, are intended to humiliate a Danish minority, or are a
manifestation of ignorance about the history of Western imperialism.
Censorship in Christianity : Aniconism
Byzantine Iconoclasm: There were two periods of iconoclasm, or icon-
destruction, in the Byzantine Empire, in the mid eighth and early ninth
Theologically, the debate, as with most in Orthodox theology at the time,
revolved around the two natures of Jesus.
Iconoclasts believed that icons could not represent both the divine and
the human natures of the Messiah at the same time, but separately.
Because an icon which depicted Jesus as purely physical would be
Nestorianism, and one which showed Him as both human and divine
would not be able to do so without confusing the two natures into one
mixed nature, which was Monophysitism, all icons were thus heretical.
During the Protestant Reformation
Aniconism was also prevalent during the Protestant Reformation, when
some Protestants began to preach rejection of what they perceived as
idolatrous Catholic practices which filled its churches with pictures,
statues, or relics of saints. The Reformed (Calvinist) churches and certain
sects (most notably the Puritans and some of the Baptist churches) began
to prohibit the display of religious images.
Among Christians today, The Amish continue to avoid photographs or any
depictions of people; their children's dolls usually have blank faces.
Religious Censorship in Turkey
Article 312 of the criminal code imposes three-year prison sentences for
incitement to commit an offence and incitement to religious or racial hatred.
• In 1999 the mayor of Istanbul and current prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment under Article 312 for reading a few
lines from a poem that had been authorized by the Ministry of Education for use
in schools, and consequently had to resign.
• In 2000 the chairman of the Human Rights Association, Akin Birdal, was
imprisoned under Article 312 for a speech in which he called for "peace and
understanding" between Kurds and Turks, and thereafter forced to resign, as the
Law on Associations forbids persons who breach this and several other laws from
serving as association officials.
• On February 6, 2002, a "mini-democracy package" was voted by Parliament,
altering wording of Art. 312. Under the revised text, incitement can only be
punished if it presents "a possible threat to public order.“
• The package also reduced the prison sentences for Article 159 of the criminal
code from a maximum of six years to three years. None of the other laws had
been amended or repealed as of 2002.