UK: Richard Dawkins backs student society over offensive cartoon of prophet Muhammad
UCL's atheist society advised to take down Jesus and Mo cartoon posted on Facebook following complaints
Secularists including Richard Dawkins have rallied to support a university society which was advised to take down a cartoon image of Jesus and Muhammad from the webpage advertising a social event.
University College London's Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society posted the title page from a comic book, Jesus and Mo, Volume 2: Transubstantiated, by a pseudonymous British cartoonist called Mohammed Jones, on Facebook last week. On Tuesday the society was advised by University College London's student union that it would be "prudent" to take it down, following complaints from other students, the identity of whom remains confidential, a spokesman said. The union's advice prompted an online petition to "Defend freedom of expression at University College London", criticising "attempts to censor" the society.
By Thursday morning it had garnered nearly 3,000 signatures, including that of Richard Dawkins, who also left a comment stating: "Jesus and Mo cartoons are wonderfully funny and true. They could offend only those actively seeking to be offended – which says it all."
Jesus and Mo, a satirical comic strip published twice-weekly online since 2005, depicts Jesus and Muhammad as flatmates who share jokes and engage in pub banter. It is published under a Creative Commons licence, which means anyone can reprint, edit, or translate the strips for non-commercial purposes.
An individual who responded to an email address on the strip's website confirmed he was a 47-year-old UK-based male, not a professional cartoonist, and the sole author of Jesus and Mo.
"The student atheist society at UCL have my complete support. I am full of admiration for the firm and principled stance they are taking against religious censorship," he said. "My primary reason for drawing the cartoons is to make atheists laugh."
Writing on the New Humanist website, news editor Paul Sims described Jesus and Mo as "Consistently amusing, frequently thought-provoking and often heart-warming" and criticised UCL union's actions.
A spokesperson for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies said: "This is silly – we will not let such crass, insensitive actions get in the way of the important unifying activities happening across campuses nationwide."
Source/Credit: The Guardian | UK. By David Shariatmadari | January 12, 2012