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Secular students’ drawings of Muhammad a stand against censorship, intimidation

May 13, 2010

Freedom of expression is one of our cherished Constitutional rights here in the U.S. So it’s understandable why people were enraged when the South Park writers were censored after receiving threats for their depiction of Prophet Muhammad on their provocative animated show. I think many of us in the U.S. were also dismayed by the 2004 murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in response to his controversial film about Islam. And by the violent reaction to admittedly offensive Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2006. And yesterday’s assault of Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.  I could go on and on.

The thing is, as religious as we are here in the U.S. and as offended as we may be by unflattering depictions of religious figures, we generally abhor censorship. And intimidation. The Secular Student Alliance stood up for free speech this month by drawing chalk pictures of Muhammad on the sidewalk.

Secular Student Alliance affiliates ignited controversy this month by drawing the Muslim prophet Muhammad to show solidarity with South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who recently received death threats for their portrayals. Groups at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Northwestern University used chalk to draw hundreds of smiling stick figures labeled “Muhammad” around campus accompanied
by messages in support of free speech without intimidation.

“The best response to intimidation is unity,” said Jesse Galef,
Communications Director for the Secular Student Alliance. “Threats
of violence should never be used to stifle expression, and we stand
together in denouncing them.”

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