THE AUSTRALIAN—The Australian National University has cited international violence in the wake of the Danish cartoon and Innocence of Muslims controversies in justifying its decision to force student newspaper Woroni to pulp a satirical infographic which described a passage from the Koran as a "rape fantasy".
The university also threatened student authors and editors of the infographic with disciplinary action, including academic exclusion and the withdrawal of the publication's funding.
The piece was the fifth in a satirical series entitled "Advice from Religion" which had previously discussed Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism and Judaism.
No complaints were received about any of the earlier instalments.
In the April 16 edition of Woroni, authors Jamie Freestone, Mathew McGann and Todd Cooper posed the question, "How should I value women?"
Their answers referenced Aisha, the prophet Mohammed's nine-year-old wife, and described the 72 "houris" - women depicted in the Koran as large-bosomed virgins who are a reward in paradise - as a "rape fantasy".
The following day, Freestone, McGann, Cooper and Woroni's eight-person board of editors were summoned to a meeting with members of the ANU Chancelry, including pro-vice-chancellor (student Experience) Richard Baker, following a formal complaint from the ANU Students' Association's International Students' Department.
The Chancelry then issued a statement to Woroni, maintaining the infographic breached university rules and Australian Press Council guidelines, as well as posing a threat to the ANU's reputation and security.
"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," the statement said.
"This was most clearly demonstrated by the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy ... and violent protests in Sydney on September 15 last year."
Woroni responded by publishing an apology on its website to any readers who felt they had been victimised, but noted that the piece was intended to be satirical.
At a subsequent meeting with deputy vice-chancellor (academic) Marnie Hughes-Warrington, the editors and authors were threatened with disciplinary action if they did not immediately remove the offending page from the online version of the newspaper.
The editors co-operated and the threat of disciplinary action was consequently withdrawn, but concerns remain about the precedent the incident has set for freedom of speech on campus. (Continue Reading.)
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Australian National University Censors Qur'an Satire
But the university has allowed satires of Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism, and Judaism.