LSE Students Outrage After They Are Told To Cover Up 'Offensive' Jesus And Mohammed T-Shirts

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Richard Dawkins has expressed outrage after an LSE student society were forced to cover-up their T-shirts which had cartoon depictions of Jesus and the Prophet Mohammad.

Members of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student Society at the university's Fresher's Fair were wearing t-shirts with the controversial 'Jesus and Mo' cartoons.

Student Union officials demanded the students remove the t-shirts, and several other pieces of literature, because there had been complaints from offended passers-by.

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Richard Dawkins has voiced support for the students

According to the students, a member of the LSE Legal and Compliance Team and Head of Security said that the wearing of the t-shirts could be considered "harassment", as it could "offend others" by creating an "offensive environment".

The student society eventually agreed to cover up the t-shirt but say they "completely disagreed" with the students' union.

Only a few hours later, Dawkins had weighed in on Twitter:

In a written statement, Abishek Phadnis and Chris Moos of the atheist society said: "We especially felt that the abrasive behaviour of the LSESU staff was not aimed at protecting other students from harm, but rather an attempt humiliate us in front of dozens of students.

"We reject in the strongest possible terms that by wearing a non-violent, non-racist t-shirt we would harass other students or create an "offensive environment".

"As much as we respect and defend the rights of others to wear whatever they choose to wear, we claim this right for ourselves.

"Our right to free expression and participation in the LSE student community is being curtailed for no other reason than that we are expressing views that are not shared by others.

"The t-shirts worn are harmless satirical depictions of fictitious religious figures and certainly cannot be considered intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive to anyone by even the most stringent standards."

In a statement, Jay Stoll, the LSE SU General Secretary, said the t-shirts were "clearly designed to depict Mohammed and Jesus in a provocative manner" and that a number of complaints had been made.

"The SU asked the students to cover the t-shirts in the interests of good campus relations. The society remained free to share their literature and views.

"One member of the society declined to do this. The student was attended by a cameraman and it was feared that his behaviour would disrupt the event.

"The SU referred the matter to the School. Representatives of the School in attendance agreed that the matter was a cause for concern and that the presence of the t-shirts was in danger of eroding good campus relations and disrupting efforts to run a Fresher’s Fair designed to welcome all new students."

The society has previously incurred the wrath of the LSE Students' Union for posting a similar Jesus and Mo cartoon on its Facebook page last year.

Maryam Namazie, the spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, said she intended to wear a Jesus and Mo t-shirt to an event she is invited to speak at, at LSE.

"Chris and Abhishek aren’t giving in and neither are we. Let’s makes sure the LSE understands that free expression is not for sale," she wrote on her blog.

"I’ll be wearing a Jesus and Mo t-shirt to my debate on the burka at the LSE on 15 October and I suggest the audience wear them too. Jesus and Mo just got in touch to see which one I want. I’ll definitely get the burka-related one."

Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns manager, said: "There is something very disturbing about the curtailing of free speech on university campuses simply on the grounds of claimed offence. Being offended from time to time is the price you pay for living in an open and free society. If any religion is off-limits for open debate we are in a very dangerous situation."

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