Earlier this year, the London School of Economics Student Union (LSESU) instructed the London School of Economics Student Union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (LSESU ASH) to remove cartoons featuring Jesus and Mohammed from their Facebook page. In the face of non-compliance with this request, they instructed LSESU ASH remove the LSESU prefix from their society’s name, and made derogatory comments about the society’s members. LSESU ASH refused to remove the cartoons or to change their name, and complained about the derogatory comments. When they failed to get satisfaction from the SU, they appealed to the University.
Proceedings in relation to this issue have now come to an end and the University has acknowledged that the derogatory comments made were inappropriate. The cartoons will not be removed from the LSESU ASH page, nor will the prefix LSESU be removed from the society’s name.
LSESU ASH President Chris Moos made a statement on behalf of the Society’s committee, saying, ‘We wish that LSESU could have engaged with us originally in order to resolve the situation when it arose and remain disappointed that they have not apologised for their unjustified defamatory remarks against us. However, we are very pleased that no action is being taken to interfere with our right to free expression, nor to remain a society clearly affiliated with our university. The cartoons on our Facebook page criticised religion in a satirical way and we continue to reject any claim that their publications could constitute any sort of harassment or intimidation of Muslims or Christians.’
Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, said, ‘It is good that free speech has not been curtailed at the end of this saga, but it is a great shame that non-religious students were let down by their union in this way. The conflation of offence with intimidation, which allowed this situation to escalate as it did, is totally out of place in a university, where the challenging of deeply held beliefs should be a routine activity.’
For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson on 07855 380 633.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.