NYU Censors Its Arabian Campus

What I learned from John Eibner—and what the Voice was the first to publish in America (“The Cartoons Conspiracy,” The Village Voice, February 14, 2006)—was the role played in setting the stage for some of the fierce demonstrations—by the Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), representing 57 Muslim states at a summit meeting in Mecca in December 2005.

Here is the core of why many of these protests raged on. The OIC’s Muslim states “resolved to pressure—through a program of joint Islamic action-international institutions, including the U.N., to criminalize insults of Islam and its prophet.

And dig this, John Sexton, “In its final resolution, in Mecca, the OIC focused on the satirical caricatures of Muhammad,” having “described publication of the caricatures as ‘blasphemy.’ Blasphemy is punished by death, according to Shariah law.”

John Sexton
John Sexton

Lo and behold, as I later reported here and in the February 2, 2009, Washington Times: “In an 83-to-53 vote, with 42 abstentions, the U.N. General Assembly urges nations to provide ‘adequate protections’ in their laws or constitutions against ‘acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general.’”

And, President Sexton, “Only Islam and Muslims are specifically named in this resolution against religious defamation sponsored by Uganda—on behalf of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Among those opposed was a majority of European countries, Japan, India, and some others. Also the United States, which does indeed support domestic “hate speech laws,” along with, I kid you not, the American Civil Liberties Union.

When I put that dangerous cartoon of Muhammad in my Voice column, I didn’t yet know about all of what I just reported. I did know—as I wrote later in “U.N. Forbids Defaming Religion, Especially Islam” (Cato Institute, January 29, 2009)—that: “I was damned if I’d be intimidated for doing my job as a reporter. What most stays in my mind is that before the December 18 U.N. resolution on defamation of religions, so much of the free press refused to run even one of the cartoons at the core of the story, and hardly anything about the United Nations’ December 18 resolution.”

A final note: I was, of course, stunned and honored when New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute named me “as one of the 100 outstanding journalists of the last 100 years.” But that came as a result of reporting like this column, exposing how New York University president John Sexton has so dishonored New York University.

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