Ursula Owen

is the chief executive of Index on Censorship.


Apprenticeship in assimilation

Closing speech at the 19th European Meeting of Cultural Journals

Assimilation is a dirty word in multicultural politics. But as a child of German-Jewish immigrants growing up in postwar Britain, it was what Ursula Owen most desired. The sense of being different, she says, only became an advantage later in life, as she became confident enough to reinvent herself through language.

A series of high profile disputes between religious and creative communities in Britain touches on a central question about how we live now – should people in a diverse, multicultural society be protected from offence and insult simply because they demand it in the name of religion, curtailing free speech where necessary? Ursula Owen, speaking at a recent conference in Amman, says the answer from Index on Censorship has to be a resounding no.

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