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Muslim cartoons causing a stir in PEI

Dave Weatherall | Canadian University Press | News | February 13th, 2006



TORONTO (CUP) -- The University of Prince Edward Island has ordered the school's student newspaper—The Cadre—not to distribute its latest issue because it contains the Muslim illustrations from the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten.

The Cadre is believed to be the first English-language newspaper in Canada to publish the illustrations—according to a timeline on the CBC's website, the French-language newspaper Le Devoir re-published the illustrations on Feb. 3. According to the university administration, the justification for ordering the removal of the issues is that the cartoons have already caused enough uproar overseas.

Ray Keating, editor in chief of The Cadre, said the decision to re-publish the illustrations was not designed to stir the controversy.

“We decided that it would be a disservice to our readers if we didn't run it with the editorial we wrote on the subject,” said Keating.

Two thousand issues of The Cadre were delivered to the school's loading docks when Keating received word of the university's decision.

“I put all the copies in the back of my van so they wouldn't be seized or destroyed,” said Keating.

The Cadre is planning to distribute the issues off-campus while they challenge the on-campus ban.
According to Peter Jacobsen, a lawyer with Bersenas, Jacobsen, Chouest, Thomson and Blackburn who specializes in media law, publishing the cartoons is not a violation of copyright, however whether it is covered under the protection of free speech is more complex.

“It's a risky venture,” said Jacobsen.

Section 319. (1) of the criminal code reads: “Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Because of the mass protests throughout the Muslim world the cartoons have already illicited, Jacobsen said there is a possibility a newspaper that chose to re-publish them could be prosecuted and be found guilty.

“Obviously this bumps right up against freedom of speech,” said Jacobsen, who added that section 319 has withstood past legal challenges that it infringes on freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, the UPEI student union—which partly owns the The Cadre—has come out in support of the university administration's decision to ban distribution of the issue on campus.

Keating appeared in a one-on-one interview on CTV Newsnet where he was lambasted by host Don Matheson who accused Keating of not having to “answer to good taste.”

After a lengthy meeting with UPEI's administration Wednesday afternoon, Keating said that initial concerns for his educational career were abated.
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