Topic: Campuses Attempt to Censor Publication of Depictions of Mohammed

Category: Free Speech

This page is a summary of FIRE’s work protecting the publication of cartoons and other images depicting the Prophet Mohammed. If you are looking for a specific case, please see one of the following:

Yale University: Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons at Yale University Press (2009)

New York University: Suppression of Discussion of Mohammed Cartoons (2006)

Century College: Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons (2006)

Mohammed Cartoon Controversy: FIRE Response to Intimidation and Newspaper Disputes (2006)

  • At Law School, Is Insensitivity Grounds for an Objection?

    December 19, 2014

    By Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic Attorneys belong to a profession that requires many to look squarely at the world’s horrors. They prosecute serial killers. They defend accused rapists and child molesters. A lawyer leading a class-action suit might pore over depositions describing harrowing deaths from cancer or children burned up in cars during crashes. Sometimes that will happen even as the attorney’s father is dying of cancer, or her kids are the same age as the ones killed in the rear seats above the faulty fuel tanks. Even corporate lawyers working for white-shoe firms never know what depravity they’ll […]

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  • Unexplained mysteries in Mohammed cartoon controversy

    August 14, 2009

    By Robert Shibley at Pajamas Media Most of us remember the riots across the Islamic world that ensued in 2005 after the Danish publication Jyllands-Posten [1] printed its now-infamous collection of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed [2]. Now the  New York Times (which points out that it refused to run the cartoons) is reporting [3] that Yale University Press has brought the controversy to the fore once again by refusing to print the cartoons in an upcoming book. The name of that upcoming book? The Cartoons That Shook the World. That’s right: Yale University Press has determined that a book that is all about the […]

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  • NYU on Mohammed Cartoons: Discuss, but Don’t Look

    April 3, 2006

    by Nathan Burchfiel Cybercast News Service New York University administrators on March 29 banned the display of cartoons satirizing the Muslim prophet Mohammed but did so during a forum held to discuss the controversy over the cartoons. As a result, the president of a free speech advocacy group calls the decision to censor the cartoons “one of the most frustrating” arguments he has ever heard. Leaders of the university’s Objectivist Club organized the forum to discuss the Danish cartoons that had depicted Mohammed, for example, with a fuse in his turban. The cartoons offended Muslims because Islam forbids any depictions […]

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  • NYU on Mohammed Cartoons: Discuss, but Don’t Look

    April 3, 2006

    New York University administrators on March 29 banned the display of cartoons satirizing the Muslim prophet Mohammed but did so during a forum held to discuss the controversy over the cartoons. As a result, the president of a free speech advocacy group calls the decision to censor the cartoons “one of the most frustrating” arguments he has ever heard. Leaders of the university’s Objectivist Club organized the forum to discuss the Danish cartoons that had depicted Mohammed, for example, with a fuse in his turban. The cartoons offended Muslims because Islam forbids any depictions of the prophet, and deadly protests […]

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  • Professor Fears Retribution Over Mohammed Cartoons

    March 10, 2006

    A part-time professor at Century College in Minnesota is under fire from students and the school administration for posting copies of the now-infamous Mohammed cartoons on a college bulletin board. Karen Murdock, an adjunct professor of geography, first posted the cartoons on a community board on Feb. 7, along with related newspaper articles about the controversy and blank paper for students and faculty comments. According to Murdock, the cartoons were torn down repeatedly, and she was told by college administrators not to repost them. In a letter to Murdock on Feb. 16, Vice President for Academic Affairs John O’Brien said […]

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  • Mohammed cartoon backlash hits Century College

    February 10, 2006

    The worldwide controversy regarding caricatures of the prophet Mohammed has reached White Bear Lake, though thus far with nonviolent results. Dozens of Muslim students at Century College — a two-year community college — protested to administrators this week about a display of the infamous caricatures, first published in a Danish newspaper, on a campus bulletin board. Karen Murdock, a part-time geography and earth science instructor who posted the cartoons — surrounded by news articles about the topic and blank “comment” sheets — said she simply wanted to spark discussion by allowing others to see the cartoons first-hand. But the postings, […]

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  • 12 Dead in Attack on Satire Magazine in France

    January 7, 2015

    We at FIRE were horrified to hear today of the attack on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, which left 12 dead. Our thoughts are with the the families of those affected and the people of France. An attack of this scale and apparently based solely on free expression is intended to chill free speech worldwide. While satire (in this case of the Islamic prophet Mohammed) is always especially unpopular with the intended targets—or, in some cases, their devotees—expression cannot be considered free if it becomes too dangerous to engage in it. FIRE hopes that the perpetrators of this […]

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  • Mohammed Cartoon Controversy Cemented Yale’s Place on Our List of ’12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’

    February 2, 2011

    As we continue to look at how the “12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” made our list on The Huffington Post, today we come to Yale University. Yale University is no stranger to entanglements with free speech, or to FIRE. Despite its reputation for academic excellence and stellar promises of freedom of expression and academic freedom, Yale has been on the wrong side of a number of free speech issues over the years. So it likely comes as little surprise to FIRE followers to see Yale earn this dubious distinction. Back in the early days of FIRE—in 2001, to be more […]

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  • Is Nothing Sacred? Comedy Central Joins Many Universities in Caving to Threats of Violence for Depictions of Mohammed

    April 23, 2010

    Comedy Central’s cartoon hit South Park is famous for its shocking and offensive humor, targeted at subjects ranging from Queen Elizabeth to Scientology. The show’s renowned satire takes an unapologetic attitude towards goring sacred cows, and fans have come to regard South Park‘s principled stance on free speech as sacred in and of itself. This week, however, Comedy Central created headlines around the world by censoring a portion of a South Park episode. The episode continued last week’s plotline depicting Mohammed in a bear suit, which is considered blasphemous by some followers of Islam. Comedy Central’s usually laissez-faire approach to […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: FIRE Releases Statement on Mohammed Cartoons

    March 1, 2010

    Four years ago last month, the global controversy over cartoons depicting Mohammed hit American college campuses. In response, FIRE issued a statement reminding colleges and universities that free speech needs protection even when it is difficult. FIRE’s statement emphasized that the First Amendment protects the printing and posting of the infamous cartoons. In the months after the cartoons were first published in a Danish newspaper, students, professors, and student publications not only reprinted the controversial cartoons but also created their own satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed. Though many colleges acknowledged the importance of free expression, others turned to censorship in an […]

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  • Yale President Defends Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons, But Acknowledges Free Speech Commitment in T-shirt Controversy

    January 15, 2010

    In a letter to FIRE, Yale University President Richard C. Levin maintained Yale’s position defending the censorship of images of Mohammed in a book about those images, citing a “risk to life and safety.” However, President Levin also reaffirmed Yale’s commitment to the strong protection of free speech in its classic Woodward Report, stating that “it is not the role of the Dean or any other University official to suppress the speech of any student or student organization” and expressing “regret” for Dean Mary Miller’s role in the withdrawal of the Freshman Class Council’s T-shirt design calling Harvard students “sissies.” […]

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  • In Interview With ‘Index on Censorship,’ Jytte Klausen Discusses Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons

    December 22, 2009

    Jytte Klausen, author of the recently published book The Cartoons That Shook the World and the subject of much controversy since the Yale University Press unilaterally decided to excise inclusion of the controversial cartoons of Mohammed central to the book’s premise, discusses the incident in the current magazine published by Index on Censorship, a British organization promoting freedom of expression. In her engaging interview, Klausen discusses the academic background of her work and research into the subject, as well as the process by which the Yale University Press, after initially approving the publication of the book with the cartoons included, eventually […]

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  • Duke Professor Finishes Yale’s Job, Prints Mohammed Images in New Book; FIRE Co-signs Statement of Principle

    November 9, 2009

    Duke University Professor Gary Hull has just published Muhammad: The “Banned” Images, which dares to publish images that Yale University and Yale University Press censored from Jytte Klausen’s The Cartoons that Shook the World earlier this year. Hull calls the book “a statement of defiance against censors, terror-mongers, and their Western appeasers.” FIRE joined with the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Association of University Professors, and nine other signatories on a Statement of Principle stating that “The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it.” Here is the Statement of Principle, which points out that Yale’s […]

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  • FIRE’s Exclusive Interview with Flemming Rose, Editor Behind Censored Mohammed Cartoons

    September 30, 2009

    PHILADELPHIA, September 30, 2009—To mark the fourth anniversary of the publishing of the now-famous Danish Mohammed cartoons, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) interviewed Flemming Rose, cultural editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, who originally published the cartoons. Rose talks about Yale University Press’ removal of the controversial cartoons, as well as several other images of Mohammed, from a newly released book about the cartoons themselves, The Cartoons That Shook the World. Yale’s decision has been widely criticized as an act of cowardice in the face of nonexistent threats. “Al-Qaeda has been appointed editor-in-chief of Yale University Press,” […]

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  • FIRE’s Exclusive Interview with Flemming Rose, Editor Behind Censored Mohammed Cartoons

    September 24, 2009

    On September 24, 2009, FIRE interviewed Flemming Rose, cultural editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, about the censorship by Yale University Press of the controversial Mohammed cartoons he commissioned in 2005 to be published in his newspaper as an exercise of freedom of expression. The cartoons and several other previously uncontroversial images of Mohammed were removed from the book about the cartoons themselves, The Cartoons That Shook the World, in a widely criticized exercise of cowardice in the face of nonexistent threats. Here is the full interview by FIRE’s Adam Kissel. [AK] Yale University Press, apparently under pressure from Yale […]

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  • FIRE Joins Open Letter to Yale Protesting Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons

    September 17, 2009

    Earlier this week, FIRE joined a dynamic coalition of civil liberties groups in signing an open letter protesting the removal of cartoons depicting Mohammed from author Jytte Klausen’s forthcoming book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, to be published by Yale University Press this October. The letter, authored by Joan Bertin, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and sent to Yale President Richard C. Levin and members of the Yale Corporation, labels the removal of the cartoons “a dangerous precedent that threatens academic and intellectual freedom around the world.” In addition to FIRE and the NCAC, the […]

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  • Letter to Yale University Opposing Removal of Mohammed Images from Book

    September 14, 2009

    Richard C. Levin President, Yale University PO BOX 208229 New Haven, CT  06520-8229 The Yale Corporation c/o The Office of the Secretary P.O. Box 208230 New Haven, CT 06520-8230 Dear President Levin and Members of the Yale Corporation, We write to protest the decision to remove all images of Mohammed from the forthcoming book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Jytte Klausen, which will be published by Yale University Press in early October.  The University’s role in that decision compromises the principle and practice of academic freedom, undermines the independence of the Press, damages the University’s credibility, and diminishes […]

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  • Yale University Press Responds on Mohammed Cartoon Controversy

    August 17, 2009

    Last week, The New York Times reported that Yale University Press had made the decision not to reprint the famous 2005 Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Brandeis Professor Jytte Klausen’s upcoming book The Cartoons that Shook the World. This decision caused an uproar both within and outside of academia. (I posted my own take on the situation for Pajamas Media here.) In response to the initial outcry, Yale University’s Office of Public Affairs posted a comment on the blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship responding to the controversy. (It should be noted that I was unable to […]

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  • In ‘Pajamas Media,’ FIRE’s VP Slams Yale Press Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons

    August 14, 2009

    There appears to be a new exemplar of the cowardice and censorship that characterized the academy’s response to the furor over the publication of twelve cartoons by a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohammed. As The New York Times was first to report on Tuesday, Yale University Press decided not to print the once-incendiary cartoons in Brandeis Professor Jytte Klausen’s upcoming book The Cartoons That Shook the World, a scholarly exploration of—no rewards for guessing—the controversy stemming from the publication of the cartoons. Yale’s press has been roundly slammed for its temerity, and rightly so. Foxnews.com was quick to pick […]

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  • NYU Continues to Defend Wrongdoing in Mohammed Cartoon Controversy

    August 29, 2006

    New York University President John Sexton has written FIRE to defend NYU’s decision to force its Objectivist Club not to show the controversial Danish Mohammed Cartoons at a discussion about those very cartoons. In response to FIRE’s letter to NYU’s Board of Trustees, Sexton claimed that the student organizers decided on their own not to show the cartoons. Sexton glosses over the fact that it was NYU’s administration that told the students that they could not show the cartoons if they opened the discussion to New Yorkers unaffiliated with NYU, dozens of whom had already registered to attend. FIRE is […]

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  • FIRE Asks NYU to Repudiate Its Censorship of the Mohammed Cartoons

    April 18, 2006

    Yesterday we sent a letter asking NYU to repudiate its actions censoring the public display of the Mohammed cartoons at an event at which I was a panelist on March 29th. The letter opens: As you know, I participated in the NYU Objectivist Club’s March 29 panel discussion of the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Two days prior to the event, your administration gave the Objectivist Club’s officers an ultimatum—if they wished to show the cartoons that were the subject of the event, they had to un-invite nearly 150 off-campus guests who had registered to attend. Meanwhile, your administration did nothing […]

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  • Minnesota Sees Resurgence of Outrage Over Mohammed Cartoons

    April 14, 2006

    On Monday, April 10, the president of Century College, Larry Litecky, among others, received an outraged e-mail from Farheen Hakeem—comedian, community activist, and candidate for Commissioner of Hennepin County in Minnesota. The e-mail addressed the actions of Professor Karen Murdock, who garnered a good amount of attention throughout February and March for posting the Danish Mohammed cartoons in the hallway outside her office at the suburban St. Paul community college. Ms. Hakeem’s e-mail stated: It is very clear to me that Century College is not a safe place for Muslims. Not only has there been no consequences given to Professor […]

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  • NYU Surrenders to the Heckler’s Veto in Mohammed Cartoon Dispute

    March 29, 2006

    NEW YORK, March 29, 2006—In violation of its own policies, New York University (NYU) is refusing to allow a student group to show the Danish cartoons of Mohammed at a public event tonight. Even though the purpose of the event is to show and discuss the cartoons, an administrator has suddenly ordered the students either not to display them or to exclude 150 off-campus guests from attending. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is urging NYU’s president to reverse course and stand up for freedom of speech. “NYU’s actions are inexcusable,” declared FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, who is […]

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  • Minnesota Prof Censored for Posting Mohammed Cartoons

    March 9, 2006

    MINNEAPOLIS, March 9, 2006—The uproar over cartoons of the prophet Mohammed may be fading in some places, but not at Century College in Minnesota. After repeatedly encountering censorship of her display of the cartoons on a hallway bulletin board, Professor Karen Murdock finally posted them behind a curtain so that passers-by would not be offended. Yet even after assuring Murdock and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that free speech is valued at Century, administrators allowed censors to tear down the hidden cartoons and insisted that she not put them back up. “Karen Murdock bent over backwards to […]

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  • Mohammed Cartoon Controversy Part II: Free Speech and the ‘Direct Assault’

    February 27, 2006

    A reader of The Torch recently responded to FIRE’s statement that colleges have a responsibility to allow publication of the infamous Mohammed cartoons by saying: Muslims all over the world got deeply hurt…and are in lot of pain. This is not an issue of freedom of expression, but amounts to direct assault. I hope and pray the people who opt to publish cartoons understand and respect our feelings. That the cartoons are legally protected speech is beyond question. FIRE, following decades of Supreme Court decisions, has long held that the First Amendment defends controversial speech, and that a cry of […]

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  • FIRE Weighs In on Mohammed Cartoon Controversy

    February 23, 2006

    The controversy over the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed has hit college campuses in recent weeks, with college newspapers reprinting the cartoons, professors displaying them, and students creating their own Mohammed caricatures. The majority of colleges have respected students’ rights to portray the prophet, but some have responded, either directly or indirectly, with censorship. FIRE issued a press release yesterday highlighting our statement that addresses the issues and principles at stake in this controversy. The statement, written by FIRE Interim President Greg Lukianoff, says that, legally speaking, the right to print or otherwise display the cartoons is absolutely guaranteed […]

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  • Mohammed Cartoon Controversy Sweeps the Academy

    February 22, 2006

    PHILADELPHIA, February 22, 2006—The global controversy over cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed has now struck American college campuses. In response, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) issued a statement today reminding colleges and universities that free speech needs protection now—in the face of ongoing controversy—more than ever.   “It is when expression is most hotly contested and the calls for suppression are the loudest that we must defend liberty the most fervently,” said FIRE Interim President Greg Lukianoff. “I am reminded of the infinitely wise words of Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson: ‘Freedom to differ is not limited […]

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  • FIRE Statement on Cartoons Depicting Mohammed

    February 22, 2006

    The international controversy surrounding the printing of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed has been historic in scale: dozens have been killed, riots and protests have taken place all over the world, death threats have been issued against the cartoonists, and some newspapers have openly admitted that they will not publish the cartoons for fear of violent reprisal. It was only a matter of time before a controversy of such magnitude reached America’s college campuses. In recent weeks, students, professors, and student publications have not only reprinted the controversial cartoons but even created their own satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed. As this […]

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  • ACLU of Massachusetts Statement on the ‘Mohammed Cartoons’

    February 20, 2006

    The ACLU of Massachusetts has issued a clear and principled statement on the ongoing controversy regarding the printing and reprinting of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. Stay tuned for FIRE’s upcoming update on how this controversy is playing out on America’s college campuses. Statement of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts Concerning the ‘Mohammed Cartoon’ Controversy The ACLUM, the oldest civil liberties organization in the United States, by its charter, history, and policies, concerns itself primarily with governmental threats to civil liberties. However, on extraordinary occasions, a non-governmental event proves so threatening to liberty that the organization sees fit […]

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