Student newspaper containing Muhammad cartoons stolen

ILLINOIS –More than 2,500 copies of an Illinois college student newspaper containing thecartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad were stolen onFriday.

Kristina Zaremba, editor in chief of the Courier, the student newspaper at theCollege of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill., said the papers went missing shortlyafter they were distributed Friday morning.

Zaremba said the cartoonswere published along with an article about an editorial cartoonist who gave aspeech earlier that week on campus titled ”Drawing Fire: A Discussion onthe Art of Visual Satire and the Muslim Cartoon Controversy.” The cartoonswere also accompanied by aneditorial explainingwhy the paper chose to print them.

”We felt that if the schoolfelt it was such an important issue as to pay someone to speak on it, we shouldcover it,” she said. ”And to effectively cover it, we needed to showthe cartoons.”

The cartoons, which were originally published inDenmark’s Jylland-Postennewspaper last year, have sparked riots in countries around the world byMuslims who were offended by the depictions. Representations of Muhammad arewidely discouraged in Islam for fear that they could lead toidolatry.

Several student newspapers at colleges in the United Stateshave reprinted the cartoons.

Zaremba said she suspects those unhappywith the cartoons took the papers. She said paper staff told the Muslim StudentAssociation ahead of time that theCourier was planning on running thecartoons, and a lot of Muslim students complained about the decision beforepublication. A response from the Muslim Student Association was also printedalong with the cartoons in the stolen issue.

”We weren’tsurprised on Friday when we distributed the papers that they were systematicallyremoved from bins,” she said. ”When we tried to circulate some onMonday, those were immediately removed as well. People literally followed usaround on Monday taking the papers out of the bins.”

Zarembasaid she has been in contact with administrators who originally told her therewas nothing they could do about the theft. Administrators told Zaremba thatstudents who stole the papers could be subject to judicial review by the schoolif she provided specific names.

Zaremba estimates the Courier lost $3,000 in printing, staffsalary and other costs related to the theft.

”A lot ofadvertisers are legitimately upset,” she said.

Calls to Collegeof DuPage administrators were not returned. But DuPage President Sunil Chandsaid in a statement that the school ”understands the need for freedom ofspeech, the importance of embracing cultural diversity and the responsibilitiesthat accompany those commitments,” according to anarticlein the Chicago Tribune. Chand also saidthe newspaper ”did not reflect the values, aspirations and commitments ofthe College, and certainly not of [Chand]” in publishing the cartoons,according to the article.

Zaremba said she is worried thepaper’s next issue, which comes out Friday, will be stolen as well. Shesaid the issue contains pages and pages of letters to the editor, mostly fromMuslim students condemning the paper’s decision.

”I dofeel it’s censorship,” she said. ”They have silenced our voiceto the majority ofcampus.”