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Mohammed Cartoons in the Classroom, in the News:

The Colorado State University Collegian reports on what happened when Professor James Lindsey showed three of the Mohammed cartoons -- "includ[ing] a satirical sketch of the prophet wearing a bomb on top of his head and another that depicted him wielding a sword, surrounded by women" -- to his about 125-student Islamic history class. They originated from a Danish newspaper.

Zaki Safar, vice president of the Muslim Student Association, said the cartoons make the holy figure out to be a terrorist and a "sex maniac" who oppresses women.

"The one with the bomb on his head was the worst," the Saudi Arabia native said, still teary-eyed just after 2 p.m., when class let out. "I cried with tears in the middle of the class."

Other students chuckled at the cartoons or were puzzled at the reaction, he said.

The professor, James Lindsay, said he presented the cartoons in response to student inquiries; several students told him they did not understand the logic behind the anger over the cartoons.

Normally, he said, he stays away from addressing current events in the history course, but this time he decided to take the opportunity to offer students some context....

He showed the Danish-drawn cartoons lampooning Muslims and Muslim-drawn cartoons satirizing Europeans and Jews, along with historical and modern Islamic texts and art....

What's worse is that these and other cartoons widen the gap between Islamic and Western cultures, Safar said, and that's exactly what his student group is trying to combat.

He said freedom of speech should be used responsibly and not give such a powerful voice to the most ignorant in each culture....

Students interviewed on campus Thursday afternoon generally supported the professor's decision, so long as the presentation was tactful.... But Safar was firm in his belief that the blasphemy should simply not have been shown.

"(Lindsay) made a huge mistake by putting up the cartoons," Safar said. "Not only that, he's making the gap between the three religions bigger and bigger.... Making chaos between people -- I don't think that's the correct way of achieving peace." ...

"My job is not to bring people together," Lindsay said. "My job is to teach history. History is not pleasant in many cases, and I made it very clear in class that this is America and you all have the right to offend but you do not have the right to not be offended."

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