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Canadian Students Attack Prof Over Cartoon

Every day it creeps a little closer.

From the Toronto based Globe And Mail:

Saint Mary’s University professor Peter March walks past a group of pro-Muslim demonstrators during a protest held against him on the campus of the university in Halifiax, Nova Scotia February 9, 2006. The students were protesting March’s posting of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad on his office door, local media reported.

Canadian professor fans flames

JANE ARMSTRONG

Taping of Mohammed cartoon on door leads to tense protests on two campuses

HALIFAX — Philosophy professor Peter March said he was exercising academic freedom when he taped cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed on his office door at St. Mary’s University this week. Muslim students say he was mocking their faith.

More than 100 demonstrators took their anger to two Halifax university campuses in a noisy demonstration that grew tense when Prof. March showed up to join the group.

He said he wasn’t there to antagonize, but his presence immediately raised tensions as demonstrators surrounded him, urging him to leave. Some of the students’ placards urged that he be fired.

Abraham Khalafi, an engineering student at St. Mary’s, said he thought the professor was more interested in stirring emotions and getting attention than in pursuing freedom of speech.

Mr. Khalafi, 20, and his friends went to Prof. March’s office on Wednesday to explain why the cartoons are insulting to Muslims. The student said the professor "treated us like garbage."

"He said, ‘I’m going to dis your religion.’ And I said: ‘Keep it to yourself.’ That’s not freedom. It’s making racism."

Ahmed El-Anjou, 19, said Prof. March’s actions were "degrading to Muslims." He said he didn’t care if the teacher discussed the cartoons in class, but posting them on the door was a provocation.

"These images should be destroyed," he said.

The professor, who said he is a defender of civil liberties and opposes all religion, said his actions were designed to prompt a public debate, which he said is a cornerstone of university life. School administrators, however, moved quickly to diffuse the issue, ordering the professor to remove the cartoons, saying they conflicted with the school’s anti-harassment policies.

Prof. March complied but vowed to bring the pictures to class yesterday for a discussion. In the end, he didn’t do that.

The university’s faculty union also came down on the professor, arguing that academic freedom is about providing teachers with the freedom to research, debate and publish. The cartoons hanging on Prof. March’s door did not constitute an "honest search for knowledge," said Steven Smith, president of St. Mary’s faculty union.

The cartoons, first published in a Danish newspaper and since reprinted in several countries, have sparked riots and protests around the world. Thousands took to the streets peacefully yesterday in Lebanon, Indonesia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Indian Kashmir and Azerbaijan.

In Montreal, the Muslim community is divided over whether to participate tomorrow in a public demonstration against the cartoons. While unanimous in saying that they want to react in a peaceful fashion, community representatives were at odds yesterday over what step to take.

Said Jaziri, the imam of the Al-Qods mosque, was organizing a demonstration for tomorrow, saying he was acting at the behest of community groups and many members of his congregation.

He pledged that the march would be held with the co-operation of the police and would be carefully marshalled to prevent violence.

However, other community representatives such as Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, and Bashar Elsolh, of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said they would not join the protest, fearing it could spin out of control.

They said that, instead, they would organize events such as weekend open houses at local mosques to explain why the community is offended by the cartoons.

Where is Ward Churchill when you need him?

Still, I’m a little confused. I thought that the biggest  no-noin the endless Islamic canon of no-nosis that there is to be no other God but Allah? Aren’t these fanatics trying to turn Mohammad into a God?

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, February 10th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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