Student newspaper containing Muhammad cartoons stolen

ILLINOIS -- More than 2,500 copies of an Illinois college student newspaper containing the cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad were stolen on Friday.

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

Zaremba said the cartoons were published along with an article about an editorial cartoonist who gave a speech earlier that week on campus titled ''Drawing Fire: A Discussion on the Art of Visual Satire and the Muslim Cartoon Controversy.'' The cartoons were also accompanied by an editorial explaining why the paper chose to print them.

''We felt that if the school felt it was such an important issue as to pay someone to speak on it, we should cover it,'' she said. ''And to effectively cover it, we needed to show the cartoons.''

The cartoons, which were originally published in Denmark's Jylland-Posten newspaper last year, have sparked riots in countries around the world by Muslims who were offended by the depictions. Representations of Muhammad are widely discouraged in Islam for fear that they could lead to idolatry.

Several student newspapers at colleges in the United States have reprinted the cartoons.

Zaremba said she suspects those unhappy with the cartoons took the papers. She said paper staff told the Muslim Student Association ahead of time that the Courier was planning on running the cartoons, and a lot of Muslim students complained about the decision before publication. A response from the Muslim Student Association was also printed along with the cartoons in the stolen issue.

''We weren't surprised on Friday when we distributed the papers that they were systematically removed from bins,'' she said. ''When we tried to circulate some on Monday, those were immediately removed as well. People literally followed us around on Monday taking the papers out of the bins.''

Zaremba said she has been in contact with administrators who originally told her there was nothing they could do about the theft. Administrators told Zaremba that students who stole the papers could be subject to judicial review by the school if she provided specific names.

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

''A lot of advertisers are legitimately upset,'' she said.

Calls to College of DuPage administrators were not returned. But DuPage President Sunil Chand said in a statement that the school ''understands the need for freedom of speech, the importance of embracing cultural diversity and the responsibilities that accompany those commitments,'' according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. Chand also said the newspaper ''did not reflect the values, aspirations and commitments of the College, and certainly not of [Chand]'' in publishing the cartoons, according to the article.

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

''I do feel it's censorship,'' she said. ''They have silenced our voice to the majority of campus.''

College of DuPage, Courier, Illinois, news