Republishing Mohammed Cartoons Gets College Students Suspended

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A Catholic group Friday decried the suspensions of the editor-in-chief and the opinions page editor of the Daily Illini, the student newspaper at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois, for republishing cartoons that mock the Prophet Mohammed.

The Catholic League said the suspensions were hypocritical of the school's chancellor, Richard Herman, because the school did not handle "anti-Catholic fare" the same way. Herman said a discussion of the cartoons should have taken place in lieu of republishing them.

"He's right, but that is not the way the university treats anti-Catholic fare on campus," said Catholic League President William Donohue in a statement.

"In March 1997, the same Urbana-Champaign campus displayed drawings by Michele Blondel that showed the red glass vaginas hanging inside European Roman Catholic cathedrals; two of them had red glass holy water cruets with crosses on them," said Donohue.

Donohue said he wrote a letter to the president objecting to the art display and the chancellor, Michael Aiken, replied, saying he regretted "that the art 'disappointed'" Donohue.

"He instructed, 'Most viewers find Blondel's art to be quite subtle as it invites the viewer to contemplate and reflect on topics as diverse as the body, the church, and architectural and religious symbolism.' Stupid me - I thought it was Catholic-bashing porn," said Donohue.

"His closer was precious: 'The University believes that true intellectual discourse extends not only to written communication but also to the visual.' Except when Muslims get angry," added Donohue.

"So what's changed? Do Catholics have to call for beheadings to get respect? How else to explain the condescending response I got, and the sympathetic response afforded Muslims? Similarly, nobody was disciplined for offending Catholics, but two kids have been suspended for offending Muslims!" concluded Donohue.

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