Australian University Forces Student Paper to Remove Satire on Islam

May 28, 2013

The Australian National University forced the student newspaper (threatening it with loss of funds and possible action against editors) to remove a satirical graphic about Islam, The Australian reported. The graphic was part of a series that had satirized various other faiths as well. This one referred to certain Muslim beliefs about women as constituting a "rape fantasy." University officials noted that graphics that mock Islam have set off violent incidents in numerous countries in the past. A statement from the university said: "In a world of social media, [there is] potential for material such as the article in question to gain attention and traction in the broader world and potentially harm the interests of the university and the university community." Woroni, the student newspaper, published its own account of the controversy, questioning the university's response. The student paper apologized to any offended, but also noted that the item in question was satire and was part of a series that satirized other faiths. The paper's editorial added that "Woroni is concerned about the implications of these events for freedom of speech and, more generally, the role of student publications. Woroni regularly features material that is challenging, and even at times confronting. By their very nature, universities are forums to critique ideas and beliefs. University newspapers – as a platform for students – should ideally reflect this role."


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