The University of Nottingham’s Islamic Society have called the suspension of student journalists at Cardiff University’s Gair Rhydd ‘justifiable’ after the paper printed the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons. Gair Rhydd, which means ‘free world’ in English and is the current Guardian Student Media Awards ‘newspaper of the year’, became the first British paper to publish the images.
The editor and three other journalists were suspended by the Students’ Union and all 8000 copies were called back; 200 are still to be found. Maram Meccawy, Vice-President of the Islamic Society, said: "I think the suspension is justifiable, we are talking here about a multicultural and internationally mixed environment with a majority of young people within it…Students needed to know that it is a serious issue and the authorities are trying to handle it wisely."
Cardiff’s Students’ Union released a statement saying: "The Students’ Union very much regrets any upset caused or disrespect shown by the publication of the controversial cartoon and has taken immediate action by promptly withdrawing all copies of this week’s edition of Gair Rhydd."
There have been protests about the cartoons’ publication all over the world. In some of the worst incidents five people died in Afghanistan, the Danish Embassy in Beirut was set on fire and diplomatic connections between Denmark and many Arab countries have been severed. Ms Meccawy condemns such extreme measures but feels the West is not blameless: "As much as I hate violence and totally disagree with it, I blame the Danish Government (and the European Union which supported them) for pulling the trigger in this case.
"Many Muslims feel that Islam and its followers have become something like a ‘door mat’. Anybody that wants to be famous, have fun or is just feeling bored can address Islam or Muslims negatively and then sit back, relax and enjoy all the mess that is created, knowing that it’s okay to do such a thing without even being blamed, let alone being charged with spreading hatred or anything similar!"