Saturday, February 25, 2006

Clemson papers reprint Mohammed cartoons.

Media: So far, the ones who are walking the talk around the nation are the college papers.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Two student newspapers at Clemson University have reprinted controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, upsetting Muslim students on campus and drawing a rebuke from the school's president. The papers, the conservative Tiger Town Observer and the liberal Clemson Forum, are not funded by the school, but the Observer has an on-campus office. In an open letter e-mailed to Clemson students and staff, President James Barker said he was disappointed that the papers printed the cartoons, which were first published in a Danish newspaper and have sparked deadly riots around the world. "While I wholeheartedly support freedom of the press and the right of student media to operate independently of administrative oversight and censorship, student journalists must understand that with rights come responsibilities, including the responsibility to be respectful of different faiths and beliefs," Barker wrote. "One of Clemson's goals is to strengthen our sense of community and increase diversity. The publication of these cartoons does nothing to further that goal." The letter said the cartoons were published in both papers Friday. Mehmet Babacan, a student from Turkey who is president of Clemson's Muslim Student Association, called the cartoons "disturbing." "I just can't understand, what's their aim?" he said. "Certainly it's not going to help our community at all to understand each other." Babacan said the cartoons attack one of Islam's holiest symbols. "It's just nonsense and meaningless for us," he said. "I'm just feeling depressed." He said the group planned to issue a formal statement next week.

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