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London University demands Jesus & Mo’s removal from atheist Facebook page

THE University College London Union’s Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society is staging a spirited fight-back over an attempt by the UCLU to censor its Facebook page.

The group uses a Jesus & Mo cartoon to publicise its weekly pub social in London, but was told to remove it because it may cause offence to Muslim students.

The image at the centre of the furore (click on pic to see the Jesus & Mo collection)

The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies immediately launched a petition against this brazen assault by the UCLU on freedom of expression, and within a couple of days the petition drew over 2,000 signatures. It reads:

In response to complaints from a number of students, the University College London Union has insisted that the UCLU Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society remove the following image from a Facebook event advertising a pub social. It has done so on the grounds that that it may cause offence to Muslim students.

This is a gross infringement on its representatives’ right to freedom of expression taken by members of the first secular university in England. All people are free to be offended by any image they view. This does not give them the right to impose their beliefs on others by censoring such images.

We the undersigned urge the University College London Union to immediately halt their attempts to censor the UCLU Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society and uphold its members’ right to freedom of expression.

Explaining the background to the controversy, the Alex Gabriel blog said that the group had been sent a message by a student union official which stated that “a number of complaints” had been made about the use of the image – partly because, contrary to Islamic teachings, it depicts the “Prophet” Mohammed, and partly because it depicts him around alcohol.

The union then told the atheist society to remove the image immediately and inform them once this had been done.

Gabriel reports today that the petition is attracting signatures from around the world. His blog was reproduced on richarddawkins.net, prompting Richard to add his name. Numerous other significant figures, including Maryam Namazie, have also thrown their support behind the petition.

Gabriel added:

The National Secular Society stood behind us, as did the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies and numerous other atheist student groups in Britain. New Humanist reported on the day’s events; PZ Myers blogged about them at Pharyngula, and society members from UCL were contacted by the BBC and by radio broadcasters all the way from Australia.

While on the subject of censorship, the BBC gets a good arse-kicking here for carrying a 700-word-plus article about the rise in the number of “honour attacks” in the UK, yet managed to avoid using the key words “Muslim”, “Islamic” or “Islam”.

Incidentally, it is reported here today  that a select number of conservative Muslim Biology students at University College London (UCL) have began boycotting lectures on evolution.

Hat tip: Paul Williams

35 Responses to “London University demands Jesus & Mo’s removal from atheist Facebook page”

  1. AngieRS says:

    I wonder if these are the same students who were tramping up and down the streets protesting about student fees. Seems to me, they were quite glad of free speech then.

  2. Robert Stovold says:

    Perhaps if God himself asks very nicely, the cartoons will be removed?
    Looks like the cartoons are here to stay then. :-)

  3. The Woggler says:

    They really don’t get it, do they? I suggest they look at the Jesus&Mo cartoons – they’d maybe realise then how ridiculous their beliefs actually are. But then again probably not.

  4. Brian Jordan says:

    Fancy getting worked up about a drawing of two people who may well not even have existed! Anyway, they’re both supposed to be in Heaven where according to Mo’s lot the wine is supposed to flow in rivers – no doubt converted from water by the one for the other.

  5. Patricia Norma says:

    Why are the Biology students who are boycotting the biology been told to get back to class or fail their studies for the year. In a secular country you cannot have people demanding it bends for them.

  6. Daz says:

    Considering the edict against pictures of Mo is made on the grounds that it might encourage idolatry, just what, exactly, is these idiots’ objection to non-believers depicting him? It’s not like a non-believer is going to idolise it.

    Petition signed.

  7. Angela_K says:

    Is there something in the Islamic fictional tome forbidding a sense of humour?

    The Muslim boycott of lectures containing evolution appeared in some of the MSM a few weeks ago. Disturbingly, some muslim medical students deny evolution – I wouldn’t want to be treated them.

  8. Atheist4Life says:

    What the university really means is if/when Muslims get offended by this the university may be bombed. Sometimes I wonder what if religions never had such moronic rules and what if they never claimed to be true in the first place. I hardly doubt it would be the world’s biggest industry if it never did those.

  9. remigius says:

    This outrageous picture appeared on the Facebook page of an atheist society where it was seen by a moon-worshipper who then took offence. It would seem that they are deliberately going out of their way to look for things to be offended by.

    With this in mind, how about this lovingly crafted portrait of Prophet Mo made from all natural materials…

    http://i.imgur.com/ieqGX.jpg

    That should keep them happy for a while.

  10. Barry Duke says:

    Oh shit, Remigius. You trying to get me beheaded?!

  11. Har Davids says:

    Signed the petition. It’s funny the way people with ridicuous notions feel offended when those notions are ridiculed. It stops being funny when an institute for higher learning, where the more intelligent of us go for their education, feels it can start playing censor, as if London is situated in Afghanistan.

  12. Don says:

    Funny thing is that as long a J&M has been running I haven’t heard of any outraged muslims making a fuss. At first I thought it was just under the radar but it is now pretty well known

    True, the author remains anonymous but that kind of logical thinking hasn’t seemed important in the past.

    So if there is a suddden upsurge in anti-J&M outrage in the near future we’ll know who to thank.

    Oh, and petition signed, for sure.

  13. remigius says:

    But Barry, your Facebook profile does state that you are into body modification. I just thought…

  14. Stonyground says:

    I have followed J&M for a few years now and I think that they have had the occasional Muslim turning up in the comments. I don’t think that any of them were outraged, they seemed to want to argue about their religion.

    I signed the petition, told them that they should be ashamed of themselves.

  15. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Petition signed. When will these people get it, they cannot impose their rules on other people.

  16. Stonyground says:

    Angie RS must have said something truly offensive because when there was only one comment here, I tried to access the comments from the computer at work and the nanny program kicked in. I had to wait until I got home to fing out what obcenities had been posted.

  17. Barry Duke says:

    Remigius, my enthusiasm for body modification does not include decapitation.

  18. LSM says:

    What do you call a drunk man at the bar?

    Hammered.

    What do you call a really drunk man at the bar?

    Mo-hammered.

  19. Brian Jordan says:

    Don wrote

    So if there is a suddden upsurge in anti-J&M outrage in the near future we’ll know who to thank.

    Meanwhile there’s been a massive surge in readership of Jesus and Mo https://www.projectwonderful.com/advertisehere.php?id=48853&type=4 (thanks to billpg on RDF).
    Far more people will have gone to see what the fun was than there were Muslims at UCL who might, originally, have seen the cartoon before the censorship attempt. Now, of course, all the Muslim world and his wife is supposed to have been offended – presumably by sneaking off to see this atheist Facebook page.

  20. AngieRS says:

    Well, I don’t think it was outrageous, Stoneyground.

  21. barriejohn says:

    I agree with Brian Jordan. It amazes me how few people have even heard of Jesus and Mo, so this is very welcome publicity for one of the funniest and wittiest cartoons on the net.

  22. gsw says:

    Please not the wording.

    it may cause offence to Muslim students
    Not muslims have complained, or muslims are offended.

    It is about time the ‘offended’ fuse was overloaded – there are so many things that offend me – priests in long dresses, people who cover their faces, little girls in skirts (jeans for all), little girls in bikinis, face piercings (shudder), bass music, books claiming that I am inferior in intelligence, condescending officials … I could go on for hours.

    Maybe we should incorporate being ‘offended’ into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    Article 23
    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work, to protection against unemployment, to be offended and to free choice of who to offend.

  23. […] to the attention of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Student Societies, Freethinker Magazine, the British Humanist Foundation, New Humanist, and the high priests of militant atheism, PZ Myers […]

  24. Pete H says:

    gsw – I defer to Stephen Fry on the matter of offending people:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnSByCb8lqY

  25. […] University College London Union Jesus & Mo controversy rumbles on. Latest to join the fray is S M Tahir Nasser, Treasurer of UCLU Ahmadiyya Muslim […]

  26. Stonyground says:

    @AngieRS
    No I don’t either, our work computers have a nanny program that puts up a message saying ‘You have attempted to access a restricted website’ and it is still impossible to access this comment thread from work. When I first tried early yesterday before work, your comment was the only one here. I have no idea what the problem is.

  27. hugh carlyle says:

    well well well….once again the very same people who promulgate the worst type of hatred, bigotry, misogyny, and the threat of violence are the very same people who seek shelter under hate speech law if we say what we think about their religion….as they are offended. I find their thinking and religion offensive. The idea that you limit freedom of expression, the most important thing we have, particularly at a University…is appalling. There. I’ve said it and it feels good. The cartoons were good as well.

  28. Well Actually says:

    Whilst I do not agree with people being deliberately and purposefully offensive, I do not believe that religion or holding religious beliefs give you any special exemption from being offended.

    Having freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of belief means that sometimes you are going to get offended. It’s just the way of things.

  29. Stonyground says:

    Of course, the J&M cartoons have gained lots of new followers because of this incident.

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  31. […] London University demands Jesus & Mo’s removal from atheist Facebook page (freethinker.co.uk) […]

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  33. Charlie Harris says:

    UCL is wrong to censor this website – there is NO right not to be offended. But if the university genuinely believes that the SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society should not offend religious students, why does it extend this protection only to Muslims? Why is it OK to offend Christian students.