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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Blasphemy Day hits Stony Brook

Muslim student Mohammed Halaibeh, Bio Medical Engineering Major, was leaving the commuter lounge in the Melville Library on Sept. 30 at 5:50 a.m. to use the bathroom when a flyer with an insulting cartoon caught his eye. He stepped toward the bulletin board, realizing it was the Danish cartoon that was drawn of Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

‘I immediately took it down and threw it away,’ Halaibeh, 22, said. He later called his friend Omar Shareef, President of the Muslim Student Association at Stony Brook, to tell him about the picture and the ignited fuse drawn out of the profits head, and how his turban was drawn to look like a bomb.

‘He told me to bring him the flyer so he could see it and then we both realized that there must be more around the campus,’ Halaibeh said. Their hunch was true.

Later in the day, Halaibeh’s friend saw more cartoons on the bulletin board outside of Javits Lecture Hall, but the cartoon wasn’t of the prophet. This time it was a drawing of Jesus in a very pornographic and explicit depiction.

‘We started to search around campus for more of these cartoons and found 12 in total,’ Omar, 21, said.

‘For the most part it was all directed at Muslims because 10 out of the 12 flyers were of the Prophet Muhammad.’

They found other flyers in the SAC, the Union and Javits. Halaibeh called into the police when he found another cartoon hanging in the SAC lobby.

With more research that the students did, they came to find that Stony Brook wasn’t the only place that these flyers were being posted. SUNY Buffalo’s club the Free Thinkers were posting flyers of the Danish cartoon all around campus on Sept. 30 as well.

‘It’s called Blasphemy Day,’ Omar said. ‘It takes place every Sept. 30 to celebrate when the first cartoon was drawn. Students feel the need to exercise free speech and break down the wall between criticism and religion. They say that religion shouldn’t be immune to criticism.’

In a Free Thinker’s post online students wrote, ”hellip;it’s our right to make fun of religion, it deserves it, and it’s not immune to it or magically above it.’ They also wrote, ”hellip; hurt feelings are no reason to make the ridiculous claim that there’s some right to be free from being offended. That doesn’t exist, and it couldn’t in a free society.’
‘The difference with what happened at Buffalo and what happened here is that we have no idea who posted our flyers,’ Omar said. ‘Someone from off campus could have easily posted the flyers and we would never know. There are a lot of different avenues to take to have your voice be heard. Is this really the right way to show people how you feel?’

Nabiha Zahir, 20, psychology major, was shocked when she heard about the flyers.
‘Our campus is so welcoming and no one is afraid to show their religion,’ Zahir said. ‘I don’t understand the need to put other religions down.’ Zahir also said that she was glad to have never seen the cartoons. She said that it meant students and the police were on top of getting rid of the hate.

‘I think the police are about to close the investigation,’ Halaibeh said. ‘I don’t want an apology from whoever posted these flyers. I want to be able to change their mentality. A person could slap my face and say they are sorry, and slap it again and still say they are sorry. If they understood what they were apologizing for they would not slap my face a second time. I want this person to understand my religion.’

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