Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Feb. 24, 2006

Trip to Iran canceled due to continued violence

by Hokuma Karimova, Foreign Desk Editor
The Spring Break trip to Iran, which included Blair students, has been canceled after cartoon caricatures of Muhammad prompted unrest in the Middle East, according to the trip's organizer and social studies teacher David Swaney. Swaney said that the decision to cancel the trip stemmed from the continuous demonstrations and protests in Middle Eastern countries.

"I made the decision to cancel the trip last week because I decided that the situation had gotten potentially dangerous in Iran," Swaney said. "My sources were telling me that before the cartoon episode things were calm in Iran, and that we would have no problems as tourists."

The situation changed after the publication of the cartoons, Swaney said. "Since the cartoon depictions, there have been protests, demonstrations and flag burnings, which would be a potentially dangerous situation for tourists."

Swaney began planning the 11-day trip to Iran, during which students would visit the cities of Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan, after he learned that College Board added Iran to the list of countries to study for the AP Comparative Government class. "I wanted to learn more about Iran from a first-hand basis and provide my students with the same opportunity," he said.

The violent protests in the Middle East began after a Danish paper published cartoons of Muhammad, one of which depicted Muhammad as a terrorist, according to BBC News. Because images of the Prophet Muhammad or God are banned in Islamic tradition, Muslims were outraged by the image.

The situation escalated after several European papers reprinted the cartoons, prompting diplomatic sanctions, boycotts and death threats in some Arab nations, according to BBC News.

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  • confused (View Email) on February 24, 2006 at 11:10 AM
    i think its really weird how they get so upset over just a simple cartoon! cartoons like family guy and the simpsons bash christianity every day.
  • to: confused on February 24, 2006 at 11:48 AM
    Unfortunately, you did not read the article carefully. It says "images of the Prophet Muhammad or God are banned in Islamic tradition..." which is not true in Christianity. Although I am not pleased with the violence, I can certainly understand why people would get upset. Please try to limit such ignorance.
  • cali (View Email) on February 24, 2006 at 12:28 PM
    why would blair students want to go to Iran in the first place.......?
  • to: to: confused on February 24, 2006 at 2:14 PM
    unfortunately, you do not understand the concept of free speech.
  • tee on February 24, 2006 at 4:06 PM
    not only did the cartoon insult muslims, but it insulted a very important rule in the ; no human depictions.
  • to: to: to: confused on February 24, 2006 at 4:22 PM
    it's mean to insult another group. sure, we have freedom of speech, but we needn't abuse it
  • to: to: to: confused (View Email) on February 24, 2006 at 4:43 PM
    Sure, speech is free here, but not all over the world. And shouldn't speech have a limit, even where it is free? I mean, you can believe what ever you want, and have the right to, but to portray the religious leader of a HUGE religion as a TERRORIST....that's a little offensive, don't you think. Also, the fact that there's a religious law against portraying him, that's just flat out disrespect.
  • to cali on February 24, 2006 at 5:03 PM
    because its interesting to go to places completely different and learn about those differences?
  • yo on February 24, 2006 at 5:47 PM
    that sucks, a trip to Iran would be vicious.

    to cali:
    why would't you want to go to Iran? Its an amazing country with an interesting culture and history.
  • to all (View Email) on February 24, 2006 at 8:19 PM
    There was a great op/ed in last week's outlook section by the editor of the paper that published the cartoons.
  • fact on February 24, 2006 at 8:37 PM
    get your facts straight people. the cartoonists were objecting against self-censorship. there was an author who wrote a children's book about islam and muhammed, designed to be informative. however, the author couldn't find an illustrator because everyone was afraid that they would get attacked by indignant muslims. finally, an illustrator agreed, on the condition of being anonymous. that's known as self-censorship. the danish newspaper felt that it's not right for one religion to impose such fear on the rest of the world, and decided to do something about it.
  • bleh on February 24, 2006 at 9:07 PM
    It's too bad the trip is cancelled. I love the idea of travelling to a country to learn about its government hands - on. GO MR. SWANEY!!
  • to:to:to confused (View Email) on February 25, 2006 at 10:00 AM
    I don't think the decision the print the cartoons is one of freedom of the press. Even as a newspaper, the publisher has to think of what's in good taste. Don't try to start World War III and then say you did it for free speech. That's not free speech.
  • ? on February 25, 2006 at 5:50 PM
    Seems a little silly to burn down buildings and kill people because somebody drew a picture that implies your religion is violent.
  • Blazer Parent on February 25, 2006 at 9:59 PM
    I am relieved that Mr. Swaney has cancelled this trip. Even though Iran has generally been a welcoming place for Americans, the new regime is seriously nuts and on course for crisis with us over its nuclear program. I couldn't predict when such a crisis might boil over into andi-American violence, but I wouldn't wan't a Blair group to be there when it happens.

    On the question of freedom of speech, there's not much point to free speech if one is not free to say things -- or depict things -- that others will object to. I have not seen the cartoons in question, but from he descriptions I think they are probably obnoxious and offensive, particularly to Muslims. But even obnoxious speech must be protected if free speech means anything. In my view, the violent reactions to the cartoons cannot be justified and cannot be used to justify censorship.

    The cartoons were tasteless, and I think showed poor editorial judgment, but the proper response would be to object and explain the reason for the offense.
  • messed up on February 25, 2006 at 10:56 PM
    First of all, it seems a little silly how so many people have no idea how offensive and hurtful the cartoons really are. And those that imply that a religion is violent are even worse, because you can't label a RELIGION based on the actions of some of its followers.
    If someone is going to label a religion as violent, then they should first learn more about it before they begin to label it.
    Plus, free speech is not meant to disgrace and poke fun at such an immensely important and HOLY figure as Muhammad. If that's what people consider to be free speech, then THEY are crazy.
    Basically, there are million of ways to get ones idea across, and the way the Danish paper and all the other papers that chose to reprint the cartoons, picked the worst way possible, showing that they are incompetent, heartless and truly are unsympathetic and one minded. THIS is the saddest part of the whole fiasco.
  • . on February 26, 2006 at 1:26 AM
    if you guys saw the 60 minutes section on this, the newspaper apparently knew that what they were doing would cause some unrest in the muslim population. the thing that gets me is that they printed something against another religion, a MINORITY, just to show that they can print anything they want. yet, they reject the cartoons making fun of christians because it would be "too offensive." a lot of the cartoons poke fun at people, but the decision to print these was positively tasteless and shouldn't have happened. its the west poking fun at muslims; this is nothing new and it was already anticipated...they should have just been mature and stopped it from ebing printed.
  • to: ? on February 26, 2006 at 11:58 AM
    "Seems a little silly to burn down buildings and kill people because somebody drew a picture that implies your religion is violent."

    Oh the irony =P
  • super on February 26, 2006 at 1:03 PM
    Family Guy RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • to super on February 26, 2006 at 6:03 PM
    can't you find another forum or something to people how you feel about Family Guy??
  • * on February 26, 2006 at 6:26 PM
    disappointed the trip is cancelled, but then again, who wants to be killed over a cartoon crisis..
    Mr. Swaney rocks for taking the time to plan the trip and having the courage!!
  • YEA! on February 26, 2006 at 6:44 PM
    Swaney is so cool!
  • Kiran Bhat (View Email) on February 26, 2006 at 7:40 PM
    Was it the right of the newspapers to print the cartoons? Absolutely.

    Was it in good taste, smart or even fair to do so? No way.

    Brings to mind something some French philosopher said along the lines of "I strongly condemn what you say but I defend to the death your right to say it."

    But anyways, sorry the trip was cancelled Mr. Swaney, not that my parents would have let me go anyways.
  • k on February 26, 2006 at 10:43 PM
    sorry you cancelled your trip mr.swaney. you're still the best.

    also, those drawings absolutely disgusted me. that was completely immature.
  • americana on February 27, 2006 at 12:00 PM
    well see the whole point of the riots against the cartoons is not only were the toons mean and in bad taste, it is a huge rule in islam to not have pictures of muhammed, so it's like double the big deal.
    also, kudos to swaney for being one helluva interested/interesting teacher.
  • Zoetrope (View Email) on February 28, 2006 at 3:34 AM
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