Index on Censorship censors Index on Censorship

So Index on Censorship runs an interview in which Jo Glanville talks to Jytte Klausen about Yale University Press’s refusal to publish the Motoons in Klausen’s book on…the Motoons.

Not only were the cartoons removed from the book, but historic illustrations of Mohammed that Klausen had wanted to include to illustrate her thesis were also omitted. When the story leaked to the American press last summer, Yale was widely criticised for undermining academic freedom. Christopher Hitchens described it as “the latest and perhaps the worst episode in the steady surrender to religious extremism”.

Klausen points out that the cartoons were necessary for what she was attempting to do in the book.

In the book, and it was written with this purpose, I ask the reader to put on different glasses and look at the images and analyse them from the vantage point of the different arguments that were made against and for the cartoons at the time. What would a Danish reader see? What did the cartoonist intend to show? Why would a secular Muslim say they were Islamaphobic? Why would a religious Muslim say they were blasphemous? These are all different readings of the meaning of the cartoons and I wanted my readers to look at how no illustrations, and no caricature, is read in the absence of context.

Yet her publisher knocked the slats out from under that project by making it impossible for the reader to find the cartoons in the text.

Klausen tells Glanville how the academic panel who reviewed her book all recommended publication of the cartoons, and the much later meeting with John Donatich, the director of the press, who got her to agree, under protest, that they would be removed after all.

It was Orwellian because they were citing my own statistics and my own book against me. Linda Lorimer turned to the back of the book where there is a chronology of events and she said: “Here you write everything that has happened and look, here is your table that shows that the cartoons caused over 200 deaths,” and later they cited my own statistics in their justification for why they removed the illustrations. However, in my book I write very clearly these deaths were not caused by the cartoons, but were part of conflicts in pre-existing hot spots…The whole point of the book is that the cartoon conflict has been misreported as an instance of where Muslims are confronted with bad pictures and spontaneous riots explode in anger. That is absolutely not the case. These images have been exploited by political groups in the pre-existing conflict over Islam…So that’s the point of the book.

And yet the very press that is publishing the book gets it completely wrong – ignores the book itself to claim that ‘the cartoons caused deaths’ – which is such a stupid claim on its face that you would think people who run Yale and Yale University Press would be able to see through it. But apparently not.

And all this because of purely notional conditional subjunctive concerns – as Klausen notes.

You know there has not been a single security threat. There has not been a single angry email, fax, phone call from anybody Muslim. Yale University has not produced any threatening letters, I have not received any threatening letters, the press has not received any.

That’s the way it was with Does God Hate Women?, too – but Continuum did the right thing instead of the wrong one. Well done Continuum. Yale could learn a thing or two from you.

But that’s not the end of this story – that’s only the setting. The story here is that, unbelievably, Index on Censorship itself has decided to censor the cartoons. Yes you read that correctly – Index on Censorship itself has decided to censor the cartoons.

So at the top of the page is Index’s confession of its own pathetic dereliction, and then under that is the interview about Yale’s identical dereliction.

Words fail me. They didn’t fail Kenan Malik.

It’s an outrage.

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