Guess what religion this Australian university won’t let students satirize?
An Australian university forced the editors of its student newspaper to retract a satirical piece about Islam, fearing violent reprisals from radical Muslims.
The Woroni, a student newspaper at The Australian National University, recently published a series of satirical infographics making fun of Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism and Judaism.
But the final installment, which mocked the religion of Islam and derided the Islamic view of women as a “rape fantasy,” prompted a stern rebuke from university administrators and some students who claimed that the newspaper had offended Muslims.
The editors issued a broad apology to anyone who might have been offended. Later, when the infographic was published on the Woroni’s website and Facebook page, the university again intervened. The editors and writers were hauled before an administrative review board and threatened with expulsion unless they took down the infographic.
Administrators claimed the piece of satire violated the university code of conduct. They also feared it could inflame radical Muslims.
“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,” said a statement from the Chancelry of the university.
Satirical depictions of Islam or its prophet, Muhammad, have been known to prompt violence among radical Muslims. In 2005, A Danish cartoonist was murdered after drawing Muhammad, and in 2010, the creators of the television show “South Park” received death threats.
The editors of the Woroni felt they had no choice but to comply, and took down the infographic. The incident left them worrying about the future of the freedom of the press on campus, however.
“Although the issue was eventually resolved, Woroni is concerned about the implications of these events for freedom of speech and, more generally, the role of student publications,” wrote the editors in a statement.
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