Cartoonist’s visit causes stir

Students protest the appearance of controversial Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose work sparked violent riots in 2005.
Students protest the appearance of controversial Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose work sparked violent riots in 2005. Photo by Alison Greenberg.

Four years and a day after cartoons of the prophet Muhammad appeared in a Danish newspaper, Yale’s campus was abuzz with disagreement over those very cartoons.

Students protested Thursday afternoon in front of the Greenberg Conference Center while Branford College Master Steven Smith led a discussion with Kurt Westergaard, the author of one of the cartoons.

Kurt Westergaard cited Sept. 11 as the inspiration for his cartoons.
Kurt Westergaard cited Sept. 11 as the inspiration for his cartoons.
No caption.
No caption.

Meanwhile, a group of alumni sent a letter to University President Richard Levin and members of the Yale Corporation calling for the Yale University Press to republish “The Cartoons that Shook the World,” a book about the Danish controversy, with the cartoons intact. The University and its press decided in the summer not to include the cartoons in that book, written by Jytte Klausen, who also spoke on campus yesterday.

There was extensive security at both events; University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said the Yale Police Department had consulted with federal and state law enforcement authorities about the necessary protection.

The protesters at the talk with Westergaard were peaceful, though. Faez Syed ’10, who organized the protest, rallied a diverse group of 15 students to condemn Yale’s decision to host the Danish cartoonist, holding signs that read “For God? For Country and For Yale,” “This is responsible free speech,” and “Cartoon Legal But Unethical.” Together, they chanted “no place for hate” as the event-goers filed into the conference center.

“We are here protesting what we think is a despicable act,” Syed said.

Participant Fatima Ghani ’10 also called for Smith’s resignation, saying that inviting Westergaard to speak ran contrary to a master’s mission of protecting the students.

“A master is entrusted with protecting the well-being of all Yale students and yet Smith gave a warm reception to a man racist toward members of the Yale community,” she said.

But Smith defended the decision to invite Westergaard to speak on campus and called it “a teachable moment.”

“At Yale, if we stand for anything, we stand for the free expression of ideas,” Smith said.

The Yale Muslim Students Association wrote in a statement on Sept. 29 that they were “deeply hurt and offended” by the decision to bring Westergaard to campus, but MSA president Tariq Mahmoud ’11 said on Tuesday they would not protest at the event. Instead, he said, they would attend and ask “critical and probing questions.

Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at the Divinity School and founder and director for the Yale Center for Faith and Culture Miroslav Volf said Westergaard’s appearance allowed the community to “reflect on the moral responsibilities that come along with free speech.”

Alumni voiced their opinions from afar, as well. Alumni Sharyar Aziz ’74, a member of the Yale President’s Council on International Activities, said he thought that having Westergaard on campus could give the wrong impression about Yale’s attitude toward the Muslim world.

“I’m all for freedom of speech,” he said. “But I’m deeply concerned that somehow an institution that has been so sensitive and so caring and so wonderful about the Muslim community in general and stuff that they’ve done in the Middle East, that somehow this event creates an adverse environment or adverse opinion of Yale’s sensitivities.”

Klausen opened her talk on Thursday evening, entitled “Blasphemy and Inquiry: ‘The Cartoons That Shook the World’ ” by saying she did not want to discuss the Yale University Press’ decision to omit the Danish cartoons and all other images of Muhammad from her book. That decision, made by University and Press officials in consultation with more than a dozen experts, stemmed from concerns about a possible resurgence of violence. More than 100 people have been killed in incidents related to the cartoons.

“I really would prefer to not talk too much about that today,” Klausen said.

Still, during a question and answer session after the talk, audience members persisted in probing the author about the Press’ decision, which has created a controversy of its own in recent months.

“I want to stress that, of course, the argument can be made that the cartoons are offensive,” Klausen said. “It is very problematic in my view because it assumes that Muslims really did respond to the cartoons based on the notion that they are taboo or bad and lack the self-control to deal with that. My book contradicts that argument.”

Meanwhile, the Yale Committee for a Free Press — a group of alumni decrying Yale’s decision to remove the cartoons — sent a letter, postmarked on Oct. 1, to President Levin and the Corporation requesting that the Corporation ask the press to reprint the book with the cartoons added back.

“In a world where light and truth are under siege, the entire Yale community has a vital stake in preserving a free press,” the letter, which was signed by 44 alumni, said.

The book “The Cartoons that Shook the World” is currently on sale.

Paul Needham contributed reporting.

Correction: October 5, 2009

A previous version of this article missated Fatima Ghani’s ‘10 involvement with the protest. Ghani was a participant, not an organizer.


  • World Citizen

    “At Yale, if we stand for anything, we stand for the free expression of ideas,” Smith said.

    The “Muslim world” does not.

  • The Contrarian

    I call for those who want the Master fired to be expelled… since they don’t believe in Free Speech, Academic Freedom, Diversity… and everything else we claim to love.

  • Recent Alum

    This event absolutely should not have been controversial. Westergaard has been criticizing terrorists for many years, but he is not particularly anti-Islam at all.

  • American Freedom of Speech

    Dear Muslims: If you can’t tolerate the Western tradition of free and critical inquiry, on ANY subject, including your “religion,” then you need to go back to your own islamic countries, where free speech about islam, Mo, Koran, and allah are death penalty crimes.

    We have the First Amendment in America. End of story. And, you’re “offended” and/or “insulted?” Who cares! I mean, who the hell are you?

    Bravo Kurt Westergaard, who now needs bodyguards to protect him from the “religion of peace.” Disgusting. You people have some nerve. You don’t belong in the West.

    As Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey remarked:

    “Islam is an absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, a rotting corpse which poisons our lives.”

    Exactly. Stop poisoning the West with your barbaric intolerance and absurd belief system. See that? That’s called :Freedom of Speech! Yes, like Ataturk, I think you have an “absurd” theology, invented by a delusional psychopath for personal power and material gain. FIRST AMENDMENT! BRAVO!

  • American Freedom of Speech

    Uh Oh – I just saw that Comments are monitored here at the Yale Daily News. Which means that un-PC comments most probably won’t be published. Such as mine: Hey YDN – How ’bout some Freedom of Speech without Big Brother monitoring?

    Dear Muslims: If you can’t tolerate the Western tradition of free and critical inquiry, on ANY subject, including your “religion,” then you need to go back to your own islamic countries, where free speech about islam, Mo, Koran, and allah are death penalty crimes.

    We have the First Amendment in America. End of story. And, you’re “offended” and/or “insulted?” Who cares! I mean, who the hell are you?

    Bravo Kurt Westergaard, who now needs bodyguards to protect him from the “religion of peace.” Disgusting. You people have some nerve. You don’t belong in the West.

    As Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey remarked:

    “Islam is an absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, a rotting corpse which poisons our lives.”

    Exactly. Stop poisoning the West with your barbaric intolerance and absurd belief system. See that? That’s called :Freedom of Speech! Yes, like Ataturk, I think you have an “absurd” theology, invented by a delusional psychopath for personal power and material gain. FIRST AMENDMENT! BRAVO!

  • Elizabeth L

    I am so sick of Muslims terrorizing the world with their “Jihads,” and so sick of hearing their whiny cry-baby selves. “Whaaaaaa! You hurt my feelings!” Get this, Mohammedans: Nobody HAS to like Islam, and ANYONE in America can speak out against your Fascist, supremacist, totalitarian, 7th century AD ideology. If you can’t deal with that, then get out. The United States is NOT going to change the peoples’ right to free speech for you barbarians. Get the picture??

    Mr. Westergaard – you are welcome here at Yale. Ignore the Islamic Barbarians who seek to silence and muzzle you and all of us as well. Also, make sure you are well-protected as a member of the “religion of peace” might try and kill you. Bless you, and we FREE THINKERS are very grateful for your courage.

  • Chesapeake Bay Crab-Cakes

    In a free society, which ours is (Thank God), no one and nothing is free from being mocked or ridiculed or, God forbid, “offended.”

    Muslims need to get with the program and realize that, barring death threats, Americans can pretty much say whatever they want. Which includes mocking and ridiculing and satirizing and criticizing Islam, a belief system which deserves all of the above.

    Christians and Jews get trashed all the time and you never hear of them issuing death threats or actually killing people because they’re “offended.” But, Muslims? Right, I don’t think any further explanation is required.

    That the Muslims’ intolerance of free speech is being tolerated at Yale shows how much Yale has been brought down by political correctness.

  • Rushdie should know

    “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it doesn’t exist.” — Sir Salman Rushdie

    Levin, are you listening???

  • GRD ’77

    Where are these students and thier signs when innocents are murdered in the name of Allah? When children have bombs strapped to them? When women are murdered and treated as animals? When cultural treasures are dynamited? When people are murdered on tape? How interesting they can use the right of free speech to demand the free thoughts and speech of others be silenced. They demand respect for thier religion, a religion that causes Yale and others to fear a violent backlash and attack if free speech is practiced. Stand up to them now Yale, or just fold our flag in disgrace. For God, For Country and for Yale. How many Yale alumni have died for the very freedoms they are trying to muzzle.

  • beyond ridiculous

    Their attempts to compare Westegaard’s cartoons to swastika vandalism is beyond ridiculous and quite offensive.

  • southpark

    If you don’t like Amer’ca then you can giiiiit out

  • yale09

    i hope that the outpouring of bigoted, hateful comments on this thread isn’t indicative of the yale community as a whole. when i was there i never encountered any student or faculty member with the balls to attack Yale Muslims and their religion openly, but apparently it’s ok on an anonymous online forum.

    it’s one thing to argue about whether or not this guy should have been invited to speak–it’s quite another to call our classmates who are justifiably offended by this cartoonist’s work “barbarians.” let’s comport ourselves as Yalies and raise the level of dialogue here.

  • irony

    “I call for those who want the Master fired to be expelled… since they don’t believe in Free Speech, Academic Freedom, Diversity… and everything else we claim to love.”

    While I don’t agree with calling for Smith to resign, I see nothing particularly wrong about these students protesting what they feel is offensive to them. Aren’t they also exercising their own freedoms? The extreme generalizations in the comments above are shocking.

  • yalie ’10

    Why are there different standards for bigotry against Muslims? if an anti-semitic redneck drew a cartoon of moses with fistfuls of $ labeled greedy shylock, and said madoff provoked him. should he be invited as an honored guest, brought in a limo to host a master’s tea escorted by 40 police? should we tell all the jewish kids to learn to entertain views “found objectionable” (quoting Anthony Kronman) because free speech is valuable?

  • Islam = 7th Century AD Nazism

    “Their attempts to compare Westergaard’s cartoons to swastika vandalism is beyond ridiculous and quite offensive.” — comment by Beyond Ridiculous.

    Exactly. The irony is that the 7th century AD Mohammedan belief system is Nazi. Jew-Hating Nazi Mohammedans.

    Read these “Sayings of Muhammed” from the Q and ahadith:

    “O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.” (The Qur’an, 5:51)

    “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.'” — Mohamet, the false prophet Jew-Hater

    “When judgment day arrives, Allah will give every Muslim a Jew or Christian to kill, so that the Muslim will not enter into hell fire.” — Mohamet, the false prophet Jew/Christian Hater

    Nazi Jew-Hating Mohammedans. (Oh, they hate Christians, too).

    Bravo Kurt Westergaard – Drawing the TRUTH about barbaric Nazi Islam and it’s 7th century AD Hitler, Muhammed.

  • yc07

    I don’t quite understand all of the references to the first amendment in people’s posts (e.g., posts #4, #5). How is an amendment prohibiting the federal government from infringing on free speech at all relevant to free speech at Yale?

    Were the protesters calling for the government to ban Westergaard from campus? If not, it seems that the first amendment is irrelevant.

  • Rich (name, not fiscal) ’67

    I am so proud to see almost every Yalie responding to this protest (which, only if you’re a clueless Muslim, made sense) by calling it what it was. Get with the program or go home to the world class universities in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

  • Ire Verent

    Muslim’s aren’t violent as the cartoon suggests, they just riot and kill when you make fun of them. So the problem really is no sense of humor.

  • Haw-eye-Pierce

    We are fighting against Islamic extremists who believe in the dogma, one world, one religion, and it is improper to question whether the Muslim religion promotes violence. So to disprove the insinuation of the cartoon there are riots and killings. So it goes.

  • Rob

    One questioner in attendance made reference to the “Islamophobe Daniel Pipes…” This characterization is a calumnious meme used by extremists to delegitimize Pipes, who has always maintained that “militant Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution.”

  • Proud Yalie/American/Muslim

    It is incredibly ironic that people who stand up for America’s freedom of speech also blatantly ignore America’s founding principles of plurality. This country was to founded to be a haven for plurality. Plurality means respect for all faiths.

    My issue with bringing Kurt Westergaard to Yale has nothing to do with free speech, but has everything to do with honoring a bigot with a master’s tea and alienating the Muslim community at Yale as a result. Muslims at Yale have no problem taking criticism. We do have a problem with our university giving a platform to anti-intellectual blatant intolerance.

  • Ivy

    “by failing to recognize the religious and racial sensitivity of the issue” – MSA president Tariq Mahmoud.

    Islam is not a race. Islam is a belief system. By injecting “race” into his statement, Mahmoud is attempting to garner more ammunition against Westergaard.

    However, there’s one problem: Islam is not a race. It’s an ideology.

    Also, it’s funny how Mahmoud self-righteously sprinkles the word “hate” throughout his statement, when Muslims are the biggest Haters of all. Here’s a few examples from their “holy” book, the Qur’an:

    “Kill non-Muslims wherever you find them. Lie in wait and ambush them, seize and capture them using every stratagem of war. (9:5)

    “Non-Muslims MUST convert to Islam or they will be killed.” (48:16)

    “Fight the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) and extort money from them.” (9:29)

    “Mohammed, the messenger of Allah, and those who follow him (Muslims) are merciful to one another but harsh to the infidels (non-Muslims).” (48:29)

    “Do not make friends with inferior people (Jews, Christians and all non-Muslims).” (3:118)

    “Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings.” (98:6)

    And Mahmoud has the nerve to get on his high horse about “hate.” See, he just doesn’t expect that any of us “Infidels” will have read the Qur’an. He counts on the ignorance of the “Infidel” (that’s us) about Islam.

    My, my. Just check out the “hate” in those Qur’an verses above. And no, Mahmoud, they haven’t been “misinterpreted,” either.

  • Mike

    Luke 19:27–“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

    Muslims share many of the same conservative values as Christians, and as their population grows, the Right will begin to court them as an important voting bloc.

    The first amendment is the best thing about this country, and one hates to “let the terrorists win,” but it’s worthwhile to show restraint just for the sake of religious respect. Christians have certainly protested what they perceived to be insults to their religion–such as Scorcese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ,” and Chris Ofili’s “Holy Virgin Mary.” Many Muslims have an odd hang-up about representations of Muhammad. (It’s certainly not the only bizarre religious rule.) Though we’d like to spite the Muslim terrorists we hate, I don’t think our contempt for them justifies offending the religious sensibilities of the many, many more peaceful Muslims, especially not for the sake of cartoons that, like Serrano’s and Ofili’s work, is of little artistic or intellectual value. It should of course be allowed to exist, but we don’t have to support it. (That said, I think it was worthwhile to give Westerberg a platform–I’m less concerned about his presence on campus than the hateful comments he has stirred up here.)

  • Nice try, lol!


    Your one posted line from the NT in which you think Jesus is ordering people to be slain before him is laughable.

    Do you know what a parable is, Mike? Jesus taught using parables, a short allegorical story designed to teach some truth or moral lesson.

    The verse you posted is from the Parable of the Pounds, in Luke, and it’s similar to the Parable of the Talents, in Matthew. In no way was Jesus commanding that people be actually “slain!” LOL!

    But, you know which “god” DOES command that people be slain in it’s name? – Allah. Here’s the Jihad verse 9:111 for you:

    “Allah has purchased from the faithful their lives and worldly goods, and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight for the cause of Allah, they will slay and be slain.”

    That ain’t from no parable, Mike. That’s the verse the 9/11 Hijackers/Mass-Murderers cited that commanded them to commit a Jihad on the U.S. – “Slay and be slain” – get it?

    Nice try, lol!

    Also, the “insults” to Christians you mentioned. OK – now, tell me what Christians issued death threats and/or actually killed people associated with these “insults.” Answer: None. As we know, however, Muslims DO issue death threats and “fatwas” and actually kill people whom they feel have insulted Islam. Nice try with that bogus “equivalency” thing again!

    Finally, concerning your “hateful comments” mention in your last sentence. People have every right to express their feelings of disgust and repulsion with Islam, which you may interpret as “hate.” IMO, and in the opinion of many others, Islam deserves to be despised and repudiated just as Fascism and Nazism are despised and repudiated. NO ONE HAS to think that the oppressive, supremacist, intolerant, and totalitarian ideology of Islam is A-OK. Are you getting that, Mike?

    Have a great day.

  • gre77

    By #12-
    “it’s one thing to argue about whether or not this guy should have been invited to speak–it’s quite another to call our classmates who are justifiably offended by this cartoonist’s work “barbarians.” let’s comport ourselves as Yalies and raise the level of dialogue here.”

    > Offended is one thing, but when the offended party threatens and carries out murder and bombings as thier end of the discussion? Dialouge is fine, but that mens you have two parties WILLING to discuss thier differences in a civil manner. Balatant threats to free speech and expression based on a foriegn religious extremeist view have no place in America. I’m sure Yale would have no problem publishing anti-Christian or anti-Semitic art and political cartoons. Yes, we would be offended, but I seriously doubt you would have the utter fear of violence stop the presses.

    “when i was there i never encountered any student or faculty member with the balls to attack Yale Muslims and their religion openly, but apparently it’s ok on an anonymous online forum.”

    > Perhaps the Yale community is too polite, or perhaps they’re afraid of your apparently violent tendencies? I guess you would prefer a nice violent, hand to hand type discussion with those who disagree with your attempt to stifle free speech. Looking for martyrs or a photo op to scream Yale discriminates against muslims? Sorry, I guess you’ll have to suffer through online discussions and wait your chance to a soldier for Allah. AS you ask if the first part of your comment, online dialogue is progressing. No one wins confronting protestors looking for air time.

  • gre77

    Several questions Mike, after your examples were presented to the public at large-
    How many murders and assasinations were committed by outraged christians?
    How many riots occured and how much damage to personal and public property?
    Do Serrano, Scorcese and Ofili now live in hiding under assumed names with constant bodyguards due to threat of death by christians?
    Did newspapers around the world refuse to display information or images of the film under threat of terror attacks and murder?
    Were whole nations threatened with destruction by the christian religion?
    Would Yale Press realistically have considered a threat from the christian fanatics as dangerous as one from Islamic fanatics?

    So Mike, where are the many more peacful muslims standing up in protest of thier own religions violent actions in regards to the cartoons? Where are the leaders speaking to the faithful requesting peace and understanding of those of different faiths and cultures? The problem is you don’t and you won’t. Islam has no interest in your right to free speech, either you are of the faithful or you are not. They have shown continually the fanatical followers of Islam are more than willing to strike and destroy those they see as enemies of the faith. And the millions of peacful followers you claim exist stand by silently. I agree it should be allowed to exist, to push aside the polite and public face of Islam to show the danger behind.

  • Virginia Stephen

    I would like to reply to #21 and his “plurality” argument. I must disagree. The Founding Fathers did not have Islam and Muslims in mind. They also did not have the cannibals in New Guinea in mind, or Eskimos (no insult whatsoever against the Inuit peoples).

    I feel as well that followers of a mass-murdering-commanding moon god and Warlord also should not be included in the plurality of the U.S. You say that plurality means “respect for all faiths.” No, it doesn’t mean that, not if the “faith” is unworthy of respect. As I have learned about Islam, Mohamet, allah, and the Koran since 9/11, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I have NO respect for this 7th century AD hate-filled, genocidal, mass-murdering and woman-hating pathetic ideology. I respect worm sweat more than I respect pitiful, pathetic, Islam.

    You call Westergaard a bigot. That’s hilarious, and so like a Muslim. All Kurt Westergaard did, as well as his fellow Danish Cartoonists, was to portray the Murder ideology of Islam accurately – and which you people PROVED by rioting, burning down buildings, issuing death threats, actually harming people, and actually killing people – all of which specific examples can be verified by a search on this subject matter. No, #21, it’s YOU people who are the bigots, the racists, and the haters. No, you should NOT be included in the plurality of American society as you don’t assimilate, but rather, intend to eventually dominate. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

    “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Qur’an should be the highest authority in America and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” – Omar Ahmad, CAIR co-Founder

    Great, huh?

    Here are some other “Domination” goodies from the Koran:

    Qur’an 9:5 – “Fight and kill the Disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.”

    Qur’an 9:29 -“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

    “Allah’s Apostle (Mohamet) said, ‘I have been made victorious with terror’” (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220).

    Qur’an 9:111 – “Allah has purchased from the faithful their lives and worldly goods, and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight for the cause of Allah, they will slay and be slain.”

    Due to the violent, Kill ideology of Islam, the Founding Fathers WISELY would NOT include Islam and Muslims in our plurality.

  • ireverent

    To be fair there should be a riot induction test by posting a few more cartoons. Perhaps Moses holding two hand grenades instead of tablets, or the Pope walking through an AIDS graveyard with a massive bonfire of condoms in the background. Or a cartoon of Jesus water boarding a banker. Then we could really make a scientific comparison of religious violence.

  • yale 09

    yalie ’10:
    why the need to turn around and attack jews? there are many flaws with your comparison, but your jump to attack jews in order to make a point is counter-productive to any meaningful discussion of the issues at hand.

  • Hieronymus

    “We are here protesting what we think is a despicable act,” Syed said.

    Too. Funny.

    Gotta love that Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, huh?

    Harold Bloom and Heaven help us: the West is doomed…

    Oh, and “Mike”: pretty rare to observe individual Christians these days banding together to murder infidels, would you agree? But, of course, we see that with frightening regularity in certain “other” cultures. Women, Christians, Jews: persecuted (what some call “dead”). But, uh, whatever… Glad you picked up that Luke controversy on your trip around the interwebs. Peace out.

  • Anon

    I’m not going to quote the Bible or the Quran.

    What I am going to say is that the protestors most likely never even looked at Westergaard’s cartoons.

    I mean, isn’t protesting more fun if you don’t know what you’re protesting against?

  • BR10

    Master Smith is arguably the most positive aspect of Branford College. He is also one of the most brilliant members of the faculty. Those who failed to appreciate his invitation of Westergaard for a Tea, including those who failed to ask the right questions at the event, have forfeited one of the most potentially compelling learning opportunities of their Yale careers.

    Bravo, Master Smith, for the invitation, for attempting to direct the overly politicized discussion toward something beneficial, and for continuing to provide Yale students with wonderful forums for discussion.

    Anonymously yours,


  • another yale09

    Although I believe that those protesting the Master’s tea with Westergaard are being ridiculous, I am dismayed like yale09 above (#12) at the level of discourse here. The comments here are often bigoted and xenophobic, which is disconcerting. I’m pretty sure that these are mostly not from current Yale students, since during my time at Yale, people understood that while Islam has a larger and more dangerous extremist segment than other religions, it also has many peaceful believers. In fact, many of these are our friends in college. Fighting and denouncing militant Islamism ought to be a global priority for our country, just as maintaining the right to practice peacefully one’s religion should be another.

  • Bystander

    Proud Yalie/American/Musim is right that freedom of speech demands that we accept opinion like Ghani’s no matter how deluded it seems to some of us. But he or she is wrong, in claiming that Yale should not invite anyone who offends his or her sensibilities. That is exactly what academic freedom is about – that we are ready to be offended, so we can look critically at ourselves. Otherwise Yale will fare no better than an Islamic madrassa in Saudi Arabia, and the only speakers we would be able to invite on campus would be those who claim that its OK for a woman to become a suicide bomber, provided she is veiled before she blows herself and others up. Is that the level of conversation we are aiming for?

    And reading the comments made in the article- Muslims at Yale seem to have a fundamental problem accepting criticism – but that just might be just a selection of overly sensitive students who while at Yale missed the point of academic freedom. Shame for them.

  • Disappointed

    What hateful comments posted here! And it’s sad to see Yale alums writing some of them. Guess what – Yale has changed! Diversity of all kinds, including religion, is welcomed AND encouraged. Hopefully there are fewer students like you here now.

  • wael hallaq

    Is Bat Yeor posting on this website?

  • Yale watcher

    I can not, CAN NOT, believe that Yale Students could protest against Westergaard.
    Tolerance does not mean acceptance, for students to protest against such a cartoonist is alarming. That these students are at Yale is cause for double the alarm!

  • Mike

    I’m not drawing an equivalency. Islamic terrorism is a huge problem to which there is no Christian counterpart. Aside from the killing of some abortion doctors, Christians do not generally engage in terrorism. (Though, as pointed out above, a lot of them support many things in the name of their religion that hurt a lot of people.) My point is that most Muslims don’t engage in terrorism either, and while we should condemn those who do, we don’t need to vilify every person practicing the religion. Very few Christians today do what many did hundreds of years ago, but just as it would have been unjust to call all Christians terrorists in the middle ages because of the actions of some of them (or how it’s unjust that people still hold the Crusades against Christians today), it is unjust to suggest all Muslims are violent because of the actions of a significant minority. Protest the actions, but don’t vilify every practitioner of the religion itself. My point wasn’t that Christians act just as Muslims do, but that their religious customs deserve respect just as Christians would like their own religious concerns to be respected. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You dodge the issue by emphasizing the way Muslim terrorists violently overreact. Like you, I think we should act without regard for their threats of violence. But I would never create such caricatures as Westergaard does out of respect for Muslims’ religious oddity. Nor do I think spiting terrorists is a good enough reason to create them.
    The quote from Luke is, as Hieronymous notes, a point of controversy. It is not so easily explained away by saying it comes from a parable, since its place in the parable is unclear, and it is spoken by a figure who appears to represent God. Parables call for interpretation. It’s also laughable that you can attack me for using one line against the Bible, when you similarly take lines out of context to attack the Koran. This was not the only quote in the Bible that could be made to justify violence, and context matters to the Koran as well:

    Virginia–nice use of the phrase “you people.” And do you really believe Omar Ahmad’s statement on Islam is any different from the views of many Christians? Saying he wants Islam to be the highest authority is as frightening as when Pat Robertson says the same, but it is not tantamount to an endorsement of violence.
    Seriously, most Muslims simply aren’t so far outside the mainstream as you think. 72% of them voted for Bush in 2000.

    Also, for all of those who claim we should risk violent reprisals for the sake of adhering to our deeply-held principles, how do you feel about the Patriot act? The use of torture? The suspension of habeus corpus? These are also situations in which we have placed “safety” above our own ideals. And in the process have not just offended some people, but abused and imprisoned them, many of them innocent.

  • @disappointed

    Right, you know, except if you’re wealthy and white. But it’s okay to discriminate against them, am I right? We don’t need alums! Yale would totally still be a academic powerhouse if we had just cut out those bigots from the very beginning. You tell ’em.

  • St. Louis gal

    This may be a matter of sensitivity versus free speech, but when in the h*ll has a little sensitivity hurt anyone?? There are other ways to discuss the issue of Islamic extremism and it’s causes at Yale. I’m not sure that having the cartoonist come contributes anything to that very important discussion.

    As a Jewish girl from the Midwest and a non-Yalie, at first I thought that the cartoonist should be allowed to come to visit Yale. I thought to myself that there is an element of some truth to the cartoons, and it is a matter of free speech. For a discussion of jihad and Koranic interpretations of attack on non muslims, I refer you to Neil MacFaruhar’s book entitled, “The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah wishes you a Happy Birthday” chapter 7.

    But I think those cartoons hurt the feelings of moderate Muslims that do not believe that terrorism is a means to furthering political and religious goals, such as those in Yale’s student body and faculty. Here’s an analogy: during the crusades, Christians came and slaughtered Muslims in the Middle East. Back in that time, if someone were to draw a cartoon of Jesus brandishing a sword with a maniacal glint in his eye, don’t you think that would be offensive to many Christians?

    Actually, I find it incredibly hurtful when people criticize Israel, justified or not, because I’m Jewish and share elements of identity with the Jews of Israel. So I guess I’m “too sensitive” for free speech as well. I’ve also noticed a lack of sensitivity among the American Christian mainstream for anyone decrying insults or discrimination based on race or religion because, quite simply, I don’t think they know what it feels like. Case in point: the University of Illinois mascot and the myriad of ignorant comments I’ve heard over the years.

    If your goal is to educate and open a forum for discussion, which is a great role for a University, you don’t start by insulting people you want at the discussion table. Just a thought!!

  • Ayman Bard

    I would like anyone of those who thinks that he/she enjoye real free speech to criticize jews or israel, then come back and talk to me about Free Speech. Don’t blame your problems on Islam and Muslims.

  • @35

    Who knows who is writing these comments? Unless someone is willing to sign their name, I’m not prepared to believe that everyone who makes the claim here is being truthful. Lots of provocateurs trolling about, it seems to me.

  • Morse 08

    Wow. I am appalled by the hateful, ignorant, disgustingly evil comments posted here. I truly hope that most were left by non-Yale graduates… otherwise it is clear that Yale is failing to educate well minded scholars. I find it shocking that I find nearly as much hatred in the comments left at the Yale Daily News as I do when I read about the most shameful parts of US history.

  • ireverent

    Liberty or License, humor or hatred. Fools and fanatics are certain when wise-men are unsure. I suppose if we can endure the Iranian president telling us that there are no homosexuals in his country, we can endure a controversial cartoonist. Perhaps we should get the two together for a tea.

  • yale ’11

    God that was tedious.

    Anyways, Tariq has never tried to kill me even though according to you guys the Koran tells him to according. Actually he’s quite a pleasant person.

  • Reality is lovely

    How could anyone discern hatred from the above comments? All that is really evident is either rightful indignation at the double-standards perpetuated by Muslim students supporting the protests (and others), or ignorant comments by said protesters justifying their desires to hide from the ideas of others. It isn’t a complicated situation, nor one characterized by serious and pathological hatred. Please see past your biases and analyze this critically. You came to Yale to think, not become a liberal or conservative apologist.

  • Paul Keane,

    Letter to the Editor
    Yale Daily News

    Whatever one thinks of Yale Press’s censorship (Bolton v. Blair) of the Muhammad cartoons one of the things I admire most about Yale and the Yale Daily News is their courage in making space for both sides of an intellectual argument to be heard, even when one (or both) is clearly wrong.

    They did this in the 70’s with racism: Black Panthers and the now discredited scholar who proposed that African Americans had inferior brain power; they did it in the eighties with feminism and sexism; and they did it in the 90’s with gay rights and straight uptights.

    Now they are doing it with the Yale Press censorship of the Muhammad cartoons and the very cartoonists and editors who published those cartoon appearing on campus.

    This is what a Univerity is about: pursuing the truth wherever it leads.

    Bravo Yale and YDN!

    However,intellectual debate or not, it is ironic that the Judeo-Christian world has been so intolerant of the censorship imposed by the Muslim world on the image of Muhammad.

    The Old Testament is full of censorship. The face of God could not be looked upon, nor his name (Yahweh) written or spoken–hence the millennia-old text-message-type abbreviation, YHWH.

    Ham is cursed (Genesis 9:20-27) for “viewing” his father Noah’s nakedness, and the 3000 year history of racism begins.

    And unless my memory fails me, one of the central pillars of the Protestant Reformation was the taboo against images: hence the ransacking of Roman Catholic churches and the breaking of statues and desecration of stained glass and painted images, something Mr. Blair’s country knows about firsthand. (Ever use the word “iconoclasm”?)

    So former U.N. Ambassador Bolton (LAW ’76) and his friends who call Yale Press’s censorship “intellectual cowardice” shouldn’t get too huffy and puffy in their smug rejection of Muslim taboos which prompted Yale Press’s censorship.

    Nor should former Prime Minister Blair, now teaching a religion and ethics course at Yale, who applauds the Yale Press’s decision as “absolutely the right thing”, fail to see the fascinating and horrifying stalemate created between different aspects of First Amendment rights here: Freedom of Speech vs. Freedom of Religion.

    It is only intellectual debate embraced by Yale itself and the Yale Daily News which can keep the zeal in check.

    Paul D. Keane
    M.A., M.Div.(’80), M.Ed.

  • Hieronymus

    “But I think those cartoons hurt the feelings of moderate Muslims…”

    Oh. Boo. Hoo.

  • symbiote

    Why should Muslim’s demand that the entire world genuflect to their superstitions? This is just a symptom of extremism, kill the infidel mentality, which seeks an Islam only planet. Catering to it just enables it. I have seen more louche cartoons about political leaders. Salman Rushdie was threatened with death because he hit a nerve and told the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts.

  • Different MC08

    Yale had every right to invite that speaker to campus.
    Just the same, the protestors had every right to protest the invitation and his speech.
    Simple as that.

  • Hieronymus


    #47: proving again the superfluity–indeed, the embarrassment–of DIV.

    Paraphrase: “Jews wrote YHWH and Protestants trashed Catholics, so, we moderns should think twice about criticizing others’ censorship.”

    Ah, equivalency and moral relativism–at least M.Divs are consistent.

    Why do M.Divs even, well, *bother* with the G-d question, given that to them ‘twould seem the conclusion is foregone?

  • Recent Alum

    #50: Yes, and we also have every right to comment to say that the protests were absolutely silly. No one here is infringing upon anyone else’s rights or claiming that our rights are being infringed.

  • PDK M.’Div. ’80

    “…should think twice about criticizing others’ censorship.” Hieronymous

    Hieronymous seems a bit testy.

    I believe the words were “it is ironic how intolerant the Judeo-Christian world is of Muslim censorship of the Muhammad image”.

    Does that say anything about “think twice about critciziing others’censorship?” Go at it. Criticize all you want. Am merely pointing out an irony.

    My point may be (and it is still gestating) that religions go through evolutionary stages and that some of the components of Islam may be stuck in “arrested development” just as the Judeo-Christian world was stuck for centuries in ‘arrested devlopment”, and remnants of it remain so today, in the name of orthodoxy.

    Indeed my own letter was “censored” by the YDN and I am not objecting. If you want to read the omitted penultimate sentence go to

    I assume YDN was acting responsibly since they thought my anti-christian sentiments about the christian Crusades might inflame an already incendiary situation. (Will they do that again here?)

    Kindly don’t lump me together with all “Divs”.

    My history at YDN as publisher, editor and sole writer of
    Holy Smoke: Opinionation from Holy Hill 1976-80, and now as blogger of The Anti-Yale, is one of gadfly and irritant to the Yale and other institutions involved in the idolatrous worship known as Materialism. And don’t for a minute think Materialism isn’t a religion whose rites are practiced this very second on millions of digital altars around the globe.

    I named those institutions Mercantilia in 1977 at YDS and that label still applies today.

    My comments have nothing to do with “foregone conclusions.”

    And by the way, my comments are signed with a real name, and an academic background, for what that is worth.

    Paul Keane

    M.A.(Middlebury ’97), M.Ed.(Kent State,’72)

  • Rob69

    There should have been more pictures of the protesters – many more pictures.
    These should be published with the captions, “These people hate and fear free speech.”

    I do love the ironic expression “the muslim world,” as if they were unified by anything other than their hatred of Jews and their suspicious dread of anything that’s happened in the past 1000 years or so

  • Tanner

    Sure next time a failed artist shows up with a portrait of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in less then complimentary poses, I don’t want to see the learned people of Yale using their other face to protect freedom of expression. The comics furor had nothing to do with hurt feelings, it was the threat of a bomb being placed on campus.

  • Hieronymus


    Apologies, Paul Keane: YDN did not find my response suitable for publishing.

    Rest assured: my skewering of your hypocrisy was amusing and incisive.

  • Paul Keane

    My dear Hieronymous:

    Sarcasm I now see to be, in general, the language of the Devil; for which reason I have, long since, as good as renounced it.
    Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus (1833-1834), book II, ch. IV

    While, Hieronymous, I do not subscribe to personifications of either evil or good in the form of deities or devils, I do believe that separating one’s mind from one’s heart is a pyschological equivalent of what Dante called the Inferno.

    I recall when I was much younger taking a kind of sterile exhilaration from skewering others on the rapier of my prose.

    Do I detect an echo of same in your “Rest assured: my skewering of your hypocrisy was amusing and incisive.”

    I could save you forty years of trouble, but unfortunately each new generation must learn these lessons anew.

    So, Good night Hieronymous. The rest is silence . . .

    Paul K