Freedom of Speech and Press in Muslim-Majority Countries
This article examines the constitutions of 47 Muslim-majority countries and the Palestinian territories to compare the inclusion of free speech and free press guarantees, as well as the presence of Islam as the official state religion, to the actual existence of these freedoms in these countries, using a scale based on rankings developed by Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House. First, the findings suggest that the inclusion of Islam as a state religion in a country’s constitution does not necessarily lead to exclusion of freedom of speech and press in the constitutions of Muslim-majority countries. Second, inclusion of Islam as a state religion in the constitutions does make a significant difference when it comes to actual freedom in Muslim-majority countries, based on the ranking scale developed by the authors. Third, constitutional free speech and free press guarantees do not guarantee actual freedom for expression and press in Muslim-majority countries, with factors such as politics and culture appearing to play an important role in the application of those freedoms.