Mar 5, 2007

Danish Mohammed cartoons continue to offend

Causing a Cambridge University student to go into hiding temporarily for safety reasons.
The whole sad story is told on Cambridge University's "Varsity" site and in the Cambridge Evening News. On February 2 Clare College's prize-winning student paper, Clareification, published a special issue renamed "Crucification" and largely devoted to religious satire (and presumably, from its name, not just Islam). In its regular "lookalikes of the week" the cartoon of Muhammad was set next to a photograph of the president of the union of Clare students, along with a caption suggesting that one was "a violent paedophile" while the other was "a prophet of God, a great leader and an example to us all".

OK it's offensive, and funny, and that's what satire is all about. But the magazine apparently "provoked anger in Cambridge", with enraged students complaining in droves. A second-year student said these were "some of the most offensive things I've ever seen." The president of the university's Islamic society said "I found the magazine hugely offensive ... freedom of expression does not constitute a freedom to offend."
Now officials at Clare College are bending themselves into pretzels in an effort to a) show that the college had nothing to do with the publication of the cartoons; and b) to atone for the publication that the college had nothing to do with.
The College has been keen to disassociate itself from the views expressed in Clareification, and has publicly announced that disciplinary measures are underway. Dr Fara confirmed that “this may include the setting up of a college Court of Discipline to decide upon action to be taken”. She said that the institution “has been in close contact with leaders of the local Muslim Community, and also with other religious leaders, to apologise for the offence that has been caused”. Face to face apologies were made at the Cambridge Islamic Centre. Kwieder has agreed that “the College and University in no way bear responsibility for this publication and the views which it contains”.
The spirit of free inquiry lives on.

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