From the Cambridge Evening News (U.K.):
The 19-year-old second year student at Clare College was in hiding today (Friday, 09 February) after printing the racist cartoon and other vile material.
The article is said to be so inflammatory the undergraduate has been taken to a secret location for his own safety.
Today (Friday, 09 February), senior college officials were locked in urgent talks about how the material came to be published and what action to take against the student at the centre of the scandal....
The student magazine, Clareification, printed a cropped copy of the cartoon of the prophet Mohammed next to a photo of the president of the Union of Clare Students.
The cartoon was captioned with the president's name and vice versa.
There was also comment suggesting one was a "violent paedophile" and the other was "a prophet of God, great leader and an example to us all."
The cartoon was the same one which caused riots across the world when it was printed in a Danish newspaper....
The paper had been renamed Crucification for a special edition on religious satire.
The front page included headlines stating: "Ayatollah rethinks stance on misunderstood Rushdie".
On page six, pictures were shown of Muslims holding placards reading: "Behead those who insult Islam" and "Freedom go to Hell."
Enraged students have bombarded the Union of Clare Students with complaints and vice-president of the university's Islamic society described it as "hugely offensive" and "crude unabashed prejudice." ...
Read the whole story for the full picture.
Here's my question: I understand the British have a different free speech tradition than ours; they're not bound by our First Amendment jurisprudence; there are indeed some speech restrictions that we forbid but that other democracies can tolerate and still preserve a vibrant marketplace of ideas, and means for democratic self-government.
But can anyone tell me just what European (including English) students, and citizens more broadly, are free to say about Islam without fear of expulsion from college, or even potentially criminal punishment (as has been discussed in other cases of harsh criticism of Islam)? Islam is an ideology, an ideology which may have a great impact on life and government in Europe. For European self-government and public debate to work, Islam needs to be discussed forthrightly and unreservedly much like libertarianism or Socialism or Communism or atheism or Christianity need to be discussed. Doubtless much critical discussion of it is still possible today without the risk of punishment (I even set aside for purposes of this post the risk of violent retaliation by private individuals).
But how is a European to know just what he is free to say, and what may be condemned as "race-hate" or "anti-Islamic material" or whatever else? Is a publication, for instance, free to republish the Mohammed cartoons in order to discuss whether they are indeed "racist," and for that matter what they mean? Is a publication free to publish any images of Mohammed, or is it barred from doing so on the grounds that some Muslims might find even non-hostile images insulting? What exactly can be said without the reasonable fear of punishment?
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- SFSU Republicans Will Face No Punishment:
- Cambridge Student "at the Centre of a Race-Hate Probe After Printing Anti-Islamic Material":
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- The Effort to Ban "Defamation of Religion" and the Democracy Deficit of International Law:
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- A New International Law "Value" -- Freedom from "Defamation of Religions"?