Germany: A shocking degree of self-censorship

People in Germany have been prosecuted for criticizing the government’s migration policies


new survey on self-censorship in Germany has shown that Germans censor their own speech to an astounding degree. Asked whether it is “possible to express oneself freely in public” a mere 18% answered yes. By contrast, 59% of Germans said that in their circle of friends and acquaintances they express themselves freely.

“Nearly two-thirds of citizens are convinced that ‘today one has to be very careful on which topics one expresses oneself’, because there are many unwritten laws about what opinions are acceptable and admissible” according to the survey, conducted by Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach for the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

“The refugee issue is one of the most sensitive topics for the vast majority of respondents, followed by statements of opinion on Muslims and Islam,” it stated. By contrast, “The situation is different when it comes to topics such as climate protection, equal rights, unemployment or child rearing, about which one can express oneself frankly, according to the overwhelming majority”. As an example, 71% of Germans say, according to the survey, that one can only comment on the refugee issue “with caution”.

Among the topics considered taboo, a significant development has occurred over roughly the past two decades. In 1996, only 16% of Germans felt that patriotism was a sensitive issue. Today that figure has risen to 41%.

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