Pineapple named Mohammed sparks row at Freshers’ FayreBy Linda Fort
October 10, 2012
A pineapple named Mohammed sparked a row at The University of Reading’s Freshers’ Fayre.
Students from the Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society were asked to leave the fair for including the offending fruit on their stall. Muslims believe it is deeply insulting to depict the Prophet Mohammed.
According to organisation Student Rights, staff at the university and a number of Muslim students objected, saying “either the pineapple goes or you do”.
The pineapple was also labelled: “To celebrate the fact that we live in a country in which free speech is protected and where it is lawful to call a pineapple by whatever name one chooses.”
Student Rights said: “We feel that freedom of expression is not absolute and that the extremes of free speech should be limited to ensure that they do not become hate speech.
“However, students do not have the right to impose their religious sensibilities among others, and they must accept that they may be offended by those who do not share their convictions.”
James Fletcher, president of Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU), said: “Reading University Students’ Union is dedicated to promoting an environment in which all students feel welcome and included in all of our activities, while at the same time being committed to our members maintaining a culture of free speech.
"Our Equal Opportunities Policy and our Behavioural Policy (which all clubs and societies agree to be bound by), state that RUSU will create a culture based on the principles of fairness, respect and of valuing difference. The actions of the Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society did not comply with these ideals and we took the action we felt necessary to maintain the culture that we exist to promote.”
RUSU and The University of Reading are independent of each other but work together on projects that benefit students.
Freshers’ Fayre on October 3 brought together RUSU sports clubs, societies and volunteer programmes to encourage people to join.