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Freedom of expression, this value stemming from the philosophers of the Enlightenment, is the basis of many ideological conflicts.

"Charlie Hebdo can caricature the Prophet but Dieudonne cannot say to himself" Charlie Coulibaly "? Is freedom of expression two-speed? […] Asked about these French people who say "not to be Charlie", Prime Minister Manuel Valls considers that "freedom of expression is to be able to say that one is Charlie or that one is not" . "

Source: The Obs

Another case concerning freedom of expression is that of a Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison.

"Raif Badawi, a 32-year-old Saudi man, was sentenced for making comments on his blog that were deemed too liberal in Saudi Arabia."


The following activities will allow students to assess the limits of freedom of expression.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:

- Know the characteristics of freedom of expression;
- Get to know “free” countries;
- Understand the limits of freedom of expression;

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: Freedom of expression 101

Freedom of speech is a concept that emerged from the thought and struggles of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe and America. What about today?

Challenge 1: What is freedom of expression?

Students are encouraged to find the definition of freedom of expression. Has it remained unchanged from its origins?

- Example of definition: “Your freedom of expression is an important freedom. It allows you to freely express your opinions, beliefs and thoughts. ”


Challenge 2: Are you really free?

Looking at the definitions found, students should say if this concept applies to them and explain why.

Challenge 3: The origin

Students should identify the main events that allowed freedom of expression to be applied.

- Examples of responses:
- English Revolution;
- American Revolution;
- French Revolution.

Challenge 4: The fight for freedom of expression

Students should identify significant events in recent years where the right to freedom of expression has been affected (obtained, lost, threatened).

- Examples of answers:

  • The Arab Spring (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria);
  • Spring "maple";
  • Guantanamo prisoners;
  • Mahommet's cartoons in Denmark;
  • The attack on Charlie Hebdo;
  • The case of Raïf Badawi in Saudi Arabia

ACTIVITY 2: Freedom or Authority?

Initially, freedom of expression came to thwart the authoritarian ideas of certain European monarchs, known as absolute monarchs. Following these movements, the population obtained the right to claim and participate in political life. Many countries claim to be democratic - where people are free to choose their leaders - but are they really?

Ask students if they know of any countries that do not allow free speech. What did they hear about these countries? What system is in place?
Then check out the next card to compare.

ACTIVITY 3: Internet and freedom of expression

The cases of Raïf Badawi, the comedian Dieudonne and that of the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo can lead us to question ourselves on what is allowed by the freedom of expression.

Invite students to read the following articles from the Éducaloi website and to question their limits regarding freedom of expression.

Article 1: Your privacy on the Internet
Article 2: Your freedom of expression: exploding in the virtual world!

Are they doing everything possible to preserve their privacy? Do they always respect the privacy rights of others?

More about the magazine

Two-speed freedom of expression
L', January 20, 2015

Raif Badawi will be whipped on Friday, January 21, 2015

The flogging once again postponed, January 23, 2015

Saudi Arabia says it is reviewing blogger Raif Badawi's dossier, January 21, 2015

Wikipedia article