A truce in UF Islam flap
It’s a truce for the flagship state university and Florida’s top lawmaker, and maybe the end of a monthlong controversy over religion, terrorism and censorship.
University of Florida officials told Attorney General Bill McCollum on Thursday that they will retract their recent demand for an apology from five student groups who promoted last month’s screening of a controversial documentary with fliers and e-mails that made UF Muslim students fear for their safety.
The Republican and Jewish student groups put up fliers for Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West that declared Radical Islam Wants You Dead. One group member then sent an e-mail to students that insinuated the UF group Islam on Campus sympathizes with radical Islam.
McCollum sent a sharp-tongued letter to UF president Bernie Machen last week, warning him that student affairs vice president Patricia Telles-Irvin might have violated students' free speech rights with her Nov. 26 letter condemning the film's posters and demanding student organizers apologize.
"As the attorney general of Florida, it is my duty to protect the constitutional rights of all Floridians, including civil rights and free speech rights," McCollum wrote. "Consequently, I have asked attorneys in my office to review this matter and advise me what if any action this office should pursue.
"By not only criticizing the ad, but also calling on the groups that posted the ad to apologize, Dr. Telles-Irvin, intentionally or not, has chilled free speech on the UF campus."
Read more in tomorrow's Times.