LSE apologises for banning students wearing prophet Mohammed t-shirts

Siobhan Fenton
News

Uni apologises after SU Sabbs and security officers harassed atheist students

The London School of Economics has apologised for banning two of its students from wearing t-shirts depicting the prophet Mohammed and Jesus.

Chris Moos and Abishek Phadnis were representing LSE’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society at the university’s Freshers’ Fair in October when they were forced to remove t-shirts with pictures from the Jesus and Mo cartoon series.

The students wear the t-shirts inside the Freshers' Fair

The students wear the t-shirts inside the Freshers’ Fair

Sabbatical officers from the university threatened to physically remove the students through security officers unless they took off the t-shirts on the grounds that the t-shirts constituted ‘harassment’ towards other students.

The students were then told to cover up the t-shirts with jumpers and were followed by security guards around the Freshers’ Fair for the rest of the day.

In November, the students launched a formal appeal against the university’s decision, alleging that their right to free speech was being suppressed.

jesus-and-mo

The t-shirts carried the popular ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon

On Friday, LSE released an apology to the students. The Director of the School, Professor Craig Calhoun wrote to the students involved, admitting in hindsight that their treatment was unfair. He apologised for the School’s actions, saying, ‘the wearing of the t-shirts on this occasion did not amount to harassment or contravene the law or LSE policies’ and that LSE’s staff had, ‘unfortunately misjudged the situation’.

Professor Calhoun went on to say that, ‘LSE takes its duty to promote free speech very seriously, and as such, will discuss and learn from the issues raised by recent events’.

The London School of Economics (LSE) the university at the centre of the  row

The London School of Economics (LSE) where the students allege ‘harassment’ took place

The students at the centre of the storm, Chris Moos and Abishek Phadnis, have, however, called it only a ‘half apology’. They say that whilst they welcome the School’s comments, they does not fully exonerate the ‘flippancy’ of LSE staff towards the atheist students.

The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Student Societies, of which the LSE atheist group is a member, has welcomed LSE’s apology as a “victory for free speech” for university students throughout the UK.

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