We have had the dreaded cartoons, films, teddy-bear and more. But I bet that until now nobody imagined we would ever see a (cue dreaded music) ‘Pineapple of Hate’.  Yet despite the now familiar feeling that this is all some terrible spoof, the fruit has joined the growing list of household items which can be legitimately regarded as ‘blasphemous’.

As Student Rights reports, the crime-scene was the recent freshers’ fair at the University of Reading. For it was there that the Atheist, Humanist and Secular Society stall included a pineapple with the word ‘Mohammed’ on it. I always doubted that the Danish or French cartoons looked much like the prophet of Islam. But if there is one thing that can be said with absolute certainty, it is that if Mohammed existed he never looked even remotely like a pineapple.

For its part, the Atheist Society said that its sign was intended ‘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.’ Noble sentiment though this is, the students were soon shown to be wrong. Some Muslim students as well as Student Union staff expressed themselves offended by the fruity name-tag.

As a result the Atheist Society was threatened with removal from the freshers’ fair.  Among other things this was done with the imperishable, indeed unimprovable, line:

‘Either the pineapple goes, or you do’.

But the pineapple could not go, so the atheist society did. In a statement the Reading University Student Union explains:

Our freshers’ fair is an inclusive event for all students. As the society’s actions were causing upset and distress to a number of individual students and other societies attending we took the decision to ask them to leave.’

I wonder if any other student societies have ever caused ‘upset’ or ‘distress’ yet been allowed to stay on at such an occasion?  It makes me wonder. As will the possibilities available on all future visits to the Tesco fruit-counter.

Tags: atheism, Freedom of speech, Islam, Religion, Universities