The editor in chief of a student-led newspaper serving the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been suspended for printing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that, when published in Europe, enraged Muslims and led to violent protests in the Middle East and Asia.
Editor Acton Gorton and his opinions editor, Chuck Prochaska, were relieved of their duties at The Daily Illini on Tuesday while a task force investigates “the internal decision-making and communication” that led to the publishing of the cartoons, according to a statement by the newspaper’s publisher and general manager, Mary Cory.
Gorton said he expects to be fired at the conclusion of the investigation, which is expected to take two weeks….
“This is not a publicity stunt, and this wasn’t an easy decision,” said Gorton, who said he spent three years in the Army as a medic and paratrooper before college. “I was stressed and couldn’t sleep at night. But I just felt it was an important issue to address in the newspaper.”
Gorton’s decision, however, caused an uproar in the local Muslim community and rankled other Illini staff members after the paper was deluged with negative letters and e-mails.
Gorton himself said he received 300 e-mails. Two-thirds of the e-mails were supportive and a third were hateful, he said.
U. of I. Chancellor Richard Herman also wrote a letter to the newspaper saying he was saddened by Gorton’s decision.