Daily Pennsylvanian Changes Ad Policy After Running Controversial ‘Faces of Islamic Apartheid’ Promo

The Daily Pennsylvanian is putting “stricter policies” in place for determining the suitability of controversial advertisements.  Top staff at the University of Pennsylvania student newspaper reexamined their ad stances after sparking a mini-hullabaloo earlier this month with an advertisement called “Faces of Islamic Apartheid.”

The ad was created and sold to the paper by the provocative David Horowitz Freedom Center, which says it aims to “[combat] the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror.”  Student newspapers nationwide regularly run ads from the Center, often leading to campus quarrels and consternations– undoubtedly part of the Center’s plan.

The description of “Faces of Islamic Apartheid” (screenshot below): “It shows six photos, as if seen through a sniper rifle, overlaid with the Islamic crescent and star. The photos depict a range of Muslim individuals who have been killed or sentenced to death in recent years, and the ad blames Islam for their deaths.”


The DP ran the ad in a recent Friday issue.  As a Penn sophomore wrote in response in a letter to the editor, “[Y]our decision to publish such a distasteful, unethical, and downright degrading ad is extremely unnerving and does not deserve any place in our university’s atmosphere. . . . The ad is altogether disrespectful, outrageous, and embarrassing.  To put crosshairs on innocent people, to blame Islam– which has a devout following on campus and in the greater community in West Philadelphia– and to circulate these images around campus is utterly repulsive and disappointing.”

This repulsion and disappointment prompted the paper to reexamine the policies and larger purposes surrounding its advertising arm.

As executive editor Jennifer Sun shared in a letter from the editor soon after, “The DP’s executive board decided on Friday that we will no longer publish advertisements from the David Horowitz Freedom Center. We’ve also set stricter policies to consider other advertisements more holistically. Any advertisements deemed questionable will be discussed by our executive board before making a decision to publish. . . . We do our best to balance between being a free outlet for all opinions and serving our community by ensuring the newspaper is a place where our readers feel comfortable expressing their beliefs.”


Part of a Penn doctoral student’s reaction: “In taking this step, the paper recognized– admirably, in my opinion– that the principle of free speech does sometimes come into conflict with other high-order values like tolerance, civility and humanity.”


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