ACLU Calls for Reinstatement of Students Suspended from University of Illinois Paper
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Freedom of Speech in Jeopardy as Students are Penalized for Publishing Controversial Cartoons
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today called upon the University of Illinois to reinstate the editor in chief and opinions page editor of the student newspaper, the Daily Illini, who were suspended after reprinting a series of controversial cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.
“While we certainly understand the sensitivities surrounding the publication of explosive and controversial content,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “It has been the long-standing belief of the ACLU that the best response to speech we find odious and noxious is more speech – not less.”
In a letter sent today to the Chancellor of the University, the ACLU expressed concern and disagreement with the decision to suspend the two students from their positions and noted that upholding the premise of free speech, many universities, including the University of North Carolina, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, have published the cartoons without any retribution against students or the publications involved.
The ACLU has a long and demonstrated commitment to protecting free speech, as well as the rights of Muslims, Arabs and Asians in the post-9/11 context. The organization urges the University of Illinois to further a dialogue with students and faculty, and reach out to Muslim and Arab students to address issues of concern to those students.
“We understand that the publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons presents vexing issues for a democracy, but we also believe that that is the price of an open society,” added Romero. “Democracy means a great many things to a great many people. But it must never be a quiet business.”
The ACLU’s letter to the Chancellor of the University of Illinois is available online at: www.aclu.org/freespeech/censorship/24196lgl20060217.html
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