In the wake of the deadly attack on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, one Winnipeg university students’ newspaper has decided to republish controversial depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad originally produced by the French satirical magazine.
The Manitoban, the University of Manitoba’s students’ newspaper, published a commentary piece on the paper’s website late Monday night.
“These people were killed because they published this material,” said Ethan Cabel, news editor at The Manitoban. “The very least the rest of the journalistic community can do is, when reporting on these killings, at least show the material they were killed for.”
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The decision of whether to republish the cartoon wasn’t made lightly. It went before the paper’s editorial board, who debated the issue for days. Eventually editors held a vote and the resulting decision was to run the Charlie Hebdo cover image along with Cabel’s article.
“It was our feelings as an editorial board that it was necessary to publish this piece to give context to the article Ethan wrote for us,” said Fraser Nelund, editor-in-chief at The Manitoban.
Other media, including the CBC, have decided not to republish depictions of Muhammad for a variety of reasons.
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Cabel argued publishing the Muhammad cartoons is an important move for journalists covering the story, “either in solidarity or because it's important to the news story you are reporting on.”
But not everyone at the university agreed with The Manitoban’s decision.
Zeeshan Zamir, president of the Muslim Student Association at the U of M, agreed that the acts of violence last week ought to be condemned.
“We should condemn any sort of violence against innocent people,” said Zamir. “Who would not agree with that? We all agree?”
However, Zamir also said the images are hurtful to Muslims.
“The problem is, or my problem with the article is, just the picture itself,” he said. “It will offend us. It offended me, and I personally will do a peaceful protest in my way by not picking up the newspaper.”
Vigils and marches have been held across the world since the attacks, including at the Université de Saint-Boniface.
This week, Charlie Hebdo is upping its circulation, printing three million copies as oppose to its usual 60,000. The cover of this week's issue includes another depiction of Muhammad — this time holding a “Je Suis Charlie” placard below the words “Tout est pardonne” (All is forgiven).
It comes out Wednesday, the same day this week’s issue of The Manitoban hits stands around Winnipeg and on the U of M’s campus. (To read The Manitoban's article, click the link on the left side of this article.)