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UC Berkeley Publication Reprints Danish Cartoons, By: Suzanne LaBarre

Tuesday March 14, 2006



Students at UC Berkeley are lashing out against a conservative campus publication that reprinted two Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muham-med. 

The March issue of the 5,000-circulation California Patriot magazine, released Monday, features two controversial images initially published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. One portrays the Prophet Muhammed with a lit bomb for a turban. The other depicts a student pointing to a blackboard that calls Jyllands-Posten journalists “reactionary provocateurs.” 

Islamic law forbids images of the prophet.  

“I think it’s really outrageous that they have the audacity to print it,” said Dena Takruri, a senior, and member of the Cal Muslim Student Association. “Not only are they insulting a community, they’re defaming a religion.” 

A total of 12 cartoons printed by the Danish newspaper, and reprinted elsewhere, have triggered massive unrest in the Islamic world. Rioting claimed the lives of dozens, and Danish embassies in some Muslim countries were attacked.  

In an unsigned editorial, the California Patriot said it reprinted the cartoons to register its support for free speech.  

To shore up the argument, it cites a 1989 incident when an artist created a photograph of a crucifix immersed in human urine.  

“Being offended occasionally is the price of living in a diverse, tolerant, pluralistic society,” the editorial says.  

Ethan Lutske, opinion editor of the California Patriot, said it was his decision to print the cartoons.  

“We figured that as a journalistic entity, we felt it was our duty and an honor to free speech to put it out there,” he said in a phone interview Monday.  

Many Muslim students on campus are deeply angered by the decision. 

“The Cal Patriot is not an intellectual publication and does not merit an intellectual response,” Takruri retorted. “(They) printed the cartoons to be audacious and to instigate an angered response. They should know, however, that our community will not stoop to their level.” 

Scott Lucas, president of the Cal Berkeley Democrats, said he supports free speech, “but the cartoons were published in such an inflammatory manner.” 

The Cal Berkeley Democrats have not taken an official position on the matter. 

The magazine’s publisher, Amaury Gallais, insisted the point was not to shock. 

“We’re not trying to be offensive, we’re not trying to insult, we’re not trying to provoke,” he said. “We’re trying to make a statement. It’s a free speech issue.” 

While Gallais spoke with the Daily Planet in front of Sather Gate Monday, a student grabbed a copy of the magazine and said, “I can’t believe the Cal Patriot published this. That’s bullshit.” Moments later, a student absconded with a stack of magazines, ostensibly to dispose of them, Gallais said. 

The cartoon controversy has made its way onto other college campuses. Groups at both UC Irvine and UCLA publicly displayed all 12 of the cartoons initially printed in Jyllands-Posten, to vehement—but peaceful—student pro-test. 

The unofficial university news blog CalStuff posted rumors last week that student protests are in the works. No organized rallies were reported by press time.  

The Cal Muslim Student Association held a meeting Monday to discuss political action in response to the reprinting of the cartoons.  

“I think it’s quite disappointing,” said Rafay Khalil, treasurer of the Cal Muslim Student Association. “[Muhammed] is one of the most beloved figures for Muslims. Unfortunately, this is only going to increase Islam-phobia and racism on campus.”ª