Cliteur, Paul


Paul Bernard Cliteur (born 6 September 1955) is a Dutch professor of jurisprudence at Leiden University, and also a philosopher, writer, publicist, and columnist. He is known for his liberal perspective, his atheism, republicanism and efforts for animal rights. He is a member of De Vrije Gedachte.

Cliteur has also been on the board of several organisations, including supervisor of the Telders Foundation (think tank of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), and from 1993 until 1995 chair of the Humanist League (Humanistisch Verbond).


Cliteur studied law and philosophy, and graduated on 22 March 1989 with his dissertation Conservatisme en cultuurrecht (“Conservatism and cultural law”, published in 2005 under the title Natuurrecht, Cultuurrecht, Conservatisme, “Natural law, Cultural law, Conservatism”). From 1995 until 2002, he was Professor of Philosophy at Delft University. He is Professor of Jurisprudence at Leiden University, where he delivered his maiden speech on 28 May 2004 on “The neutral state, particular education and multiculturalism”. His activities mainly include law, cultural history, philosophy and ethics.


Cliteur is mainly known for his opining works, in which he expresses his political views. He served as a columnist for, amongst others, Trouw, and had a spoken column in the TV show Buitenhof. In these, he first and foremost expresses his liberal opinions, his own vision of multiculturism, and also advocates for animal rights.

In March 2004, Cliteur told Het Parool in an interview that he felt he was being limited in freely expressing his opinions on Islam after others branded him a “racist” and “stigmatiser”. This was partly due to an AIVD report, that argued criticism of Islam is counterproductive for the social integration of Muslims. Cliteur felt it necessary to moderate the tone of his spoken columns for Buitenhof. After being criticised for taking this position, he decided to terminate his contributions to Buitenhof completely, because he regarded himself to be no longer credible.

Cliteur, Paul

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