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Muslim students seek apology from South Alabama student paper
3/6/2006, 11:42 a.m. CT The Associated Press
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — The University of South Alabama's student newspaper will not apologize for reprinting one of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that have spurred protests througout the Muslim world, the paper's editor said.
Muslim students at the school have sought an apology since the cartoon appeared in the paper's Feb. 13 edtion. It depicts Muhammad, holding a curved sword, with a black bar over his eyes and flanked by two women wearing burkas.
"We just wanted an apology and for them to not do it again," said Joseph Stewart, a freshman who is president of the school's Muslim Students Association, which has about 50 members. "We're just saying this is rude, it offended a lot of people."
Jeff Poor, editor in chief of the Vanguard, said the newspaper printed the cartoon in support of freedom of speech and has no intention of apologizing.
Dean of Students Tim Beard told the Mobile Register in a story Monday that the administration is considering printing some sort of statement on religious tolerance and freedom of speech, but said the university will not restrain the paper.
"If any place should be a place to discuss philosophy and religion and press, it should be a university," Beard said.
The cartoon the Vanguard printed is one of 12 that were published by a Danish newspaper in September. Protests worldwide, some turning violent, have decried the cartoons as an affront to Islam, whose tradition bars depiction of Muhammad, favorable or otherwise, to prevent idolatry, and many Muslims consider images of Muhammad to be blasphemy.
The Vanguard featured the cartoon as part of an editorial titled "A truly free press must not cower down to extremists."
Poor said the Vanguard's editors decided to print the cartoon partly because the Mobile Register had printed one of the Danish images in an editorial on Feb. 9.
Frances Coleman, the Register's editorial page editor, said the paper has received little response to printing the cartoon, which showed Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse. Coleman said the paper printed the image so readers could see what was being debated.
Husam Omar, who advises the Muslim Students Association, said that Mobile's Muslim community found the Register's action offensive, but protests were aimed at the Vanguard partly because of the city's Muslim community's link to the school.
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The Vanguard: http://www.usavanguard.com