Editor: Clinton Fein


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Condemn No Evil

The latest issue of Index on Censorship magazine includes an interview with Jytte Klausen about her new book on the Danish cartoons crisis and why Yale University Press chose to publish it without any illustrations. Index on Censorship positions itself as Britain's "leading organisation promoting free expression."

With more than a touch of irony, Index on Censorship also elected to publish the interview without including the cartoons, instead publishing the board's decision not to publish the cartoons, and the sole but vigorous dissent of a board member, Kenan Malik.

Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, describing Yale’s original decision as “idiotic”, pointed
out that he has “written and lectured extensively about the incident and shown
the cartoons without any negative reaction”. And, as Jo Glanville, editor of
Index on Censorship, observed in an article in the Guardian earlier this year
critical of Random House, pre-emptive censorship often creates a
“self-fulfilling prophecy”. In assuming that an “offensive” work will invite
violence one both entrenches the idea that the work is offensive and helps
create a culture that makes violence more likely.

Back in February 2006, I made the decision, in my capcity as editor and publisher of, to publish all of the Danish cartoons.

Along with the following explanation

"The following 12 images were published in Denmark's Jyllands Posten newspaper, which
sparked the furor among Muslims globally. The reason they are being displayed
here is not to provoke, despite this site's name, but to allow our users to make
an informed evaluation themselves. For the same reasons, we published Nick
Berg's beheading and James Kirkup's poem. After two federal court cases, one
before the United States Supreme Court,’s hard fought commitment to
free speech – not an automatic guarantee, even in the West -- cost a lot in
terms of time, determination and resources.

We are not oblivious to the fact that religious and cultural differences are far more
complex than anything we could articulate in this small space, but our
fundamental belief is this. Freedom of expression is not reserved for those
wishing to express their religious beliefs, but also those who question

Author of The Jewel of Medina, Sherry Jones' response to Index on Censorship's decision on Redroom:
No Laughing Matter: Index on Censorship Censors Itself

Index of Censorship magazine: See No Evil

Index on Censorship board member, Kenan Malik's, dissent.

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