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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 February 2006, 15:01 GMT
Paper withdrawn over cartoon row
Picture of Gair Rhydd's masthead
Gair Rhydd - Free Word - was withdrawn shortly after publication
A student newspaper has recalled 8,000 copies and suspended its editor after publishing a cartoon satirising the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist.

It is thought Cardiff University's student union paper Gair Rhydd is the first UK publication to use the image which has caused global protests.

The paper has been withdrawn and said it regretted any upset caused.

Complaints over the cartoons in European papers have escalated into violent protests.

One of the images - first published in Denmark in September 2005 - shows Muhammad carrying a lit bomb on his head decorated with the Muslim declaration of faith instead of a turban.

Protestors burn a Danish flag at the Danish embassy in Tehran
Protesters in Tehran demonstrated anger by burning the Danish flag

Despite complaints by ambassadors from Islamic countries, the cartoons were subsequently republished in Norway, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

A protest outside London's Danish embassy on Friday and Saturday mirrored those throughout Europe and Asia - embassies in Syria and Lebanon were attacked and at least five people died in Afghanistan.

It was on Saturday Gair Rhydd - which means Free Word in English - was published showing one of the cartoons.

The decision to pull the newspaper was taken the same day, but the university said it was likely that about 200 copies remained in circulation.

A statement by Cardiff University Students' Union read: "The opinions expressed in Gair Rhydd are those of the editorial team independently of the Students' Union or University.

It was a very stupid thing to do on the part of the students and I think the university has acted very promptly and responsibly by distancing itself from this publication
Sophie Gilliat-Ray, Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK

"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."

The statement went on to say that an investigation was under way and that the editor and three student journalists had been suspended.

Cardiff University has said it is very proud of its history as a campus where "many faiths work, study and socialise together in harmony".

A spokesman said: "Cardiff University has excellent relationships with both local and national Muslim communities and is proud in 2005 to have launched the unique Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK which aims to promote a greater understanding of Islam and the life of Muslim communities in the UK."

The insensitive actions of a few individuals should not, and will not, stop the atmosphere of respect and tolerance that exists at the university
Omar Arabi, Federation of Student Islamic Societies

The centre's director, Sophie Gilliat-Ray, told BBC Wales: "It was a very stupid thing to do on the part of the students and I think the university has acted very promptly and responsibly by distancing itself from this publication."

Chairman of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies Omar Arabi and former student at Cardiff University, said: "It must be stressed that this irresponsible decision was taken by a few individuals on the editorial board of the newspaper, and is not representative of the diverse community that exists at Cardiff University.

"The insensitive actions of a few individuals should not, and will not, stop the atmosphere of respect and tolerance that exists at the university."

Launched in 1972, Gair Rhydd has won numerous awards including newspaper of the year at the 2005 Guardian Student Media Awards.


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