This is usually attributed to Voltaire, but was in fact a quote of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, from "Friends of Voltaire" (1906) under the pseudonym Stephen G. Tallentyre.
It cannot be found in any of Voltaire's writings, though Hall later claimed to be paraphrasing Voltaire's words in his "Essay on Tolerance".
These are the words of French author and philosopher Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet, 1694-1778.) Voltaire championed free speech all his life. He had to spend several years in England when his outspoken political comments annoyed the French government (he had already been imprisoned for his satirical writings.) He admired the (at that time) more tolerant society which he found in 18th century England, and hoped the same ideals of liberty could flourish in France. He was inclined to be sceptical about this, though; his analogy was with the coconut, which requires a warm climate and can't be transplanted to Europe. In the same way he feared that English civil liberties could not be exported to France - a view which seems ironic from today's perspective.
Voltaire's writing consistently argues for tolerance and reason against prejudice, superstition and authoitarianism; this can be seen in his works of fiction like "Candide" and "Zadig" as well as in his political writing.