Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Bill Clinton on Free Speech and Salman Rushdie in News Conference

November 30, 1993

I [met with Salman Rushdie] to make the point not that I agree with the attacks on Islam in the book that Mr. Rushdie wrote but that in our country and in the countries who respect freedom of speech, freedom of speech includes especially the willingness to respect without threatening the life of or the rights of people who write things that we do not agree with. Indeed, for a Westerner, I have tried for more than 20 years now to study and have an appreciation of Islam. And I respect the religion, and I respect the culture enormously. So I mean no disrespect to the people who have that religious faith. But I do think it's important that here in the United States we reaffirm our commitment to protect the physical well-being and the right to speak of those with whom we may intensely disagree. That's what our Constitution does.

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