Student editor in hiding as religious satire backfires

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The Independent Online

The editor of a Cambridge University college newspaper was in hiding last night after his attempt at religious satire backfired.

The 19-year-old aspiring journalist, who has not been named, is under investigation by the authorities at Clare College who described the issue of the student newspaper Clarefication as "abhorrent".

Most inflammatory was the infamous cartoon of the Prophet Mohamed, which was printed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in September 2005, triggering violent protests among some Muslims in which four people died.

For his own safety, the student has been taken out of his accommodation and put in a secure place. The newspaper had been renamed Crucification for the special edition on religious satire. The front page included the headline: "Ayatollah rethinks stance on misunderstood Rushdie".

On page six, pictures were shown of Muslims holding placards reading: "Behead those who insult Islam" and "Freedom go to Hell". Enraged students have bombarded the Union of Clare Students with complaints and the vice-president of the university's Islamic society described it as "hugely offensive" and "crude unabashed prejudice".

In a rare move, Clare College fellows have called a Court of Discipline, which will sit in judgment on the student. An insider at the college said: "It's the first time in living memory a Court of Discipline has been set up."

The college chaplain has also been involved in talks aimed at trying to ease racial tension and is known to have met members of the Islamic Society and a local imam to discuss how best to quell fears over potential racial clashes.

The senior tutor at Clare College, Patricia Fara, said: "The college finds the publication and the views expressed abhorrent. Reflecting the gravity of the situation, the college immediately began an investigation and disciplinary procedures are in train."

The college has now cut the newspaper's funding.