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N.Y. college students settle ‘hostage video’ flap

/ Source: The Associated Press

Five college students who lost campus jobs after making a gag hostage-taking video using crude Middle Eastern accents settled a lawsuit over the incident, and the college decided not to pursue disciplinary action against them, the students' lawyer and a college official said.

"We're all happy to publicly report that any dispute which existed between the plaintiffs and defendants in this action has been settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties," the students' lawyer, Frederick K. Brewington, said Wednesday, accompanied by representatives from Long Island University and its C.W. Post College.

They would not discuss details of the settlement.

"The students have accepted responsibility for the video and expressed remorse at the insensitivity displayed in the video," C.W. Post Provost Joseph Shenker said in a statement.

The video emerged last month. Briefly posted on the Internet site YouTube, it showed five figures in ski masks, speaking in crude Middle Eastern accents as they threatened their captive: a rubber duck that serves as the mascot of a C.W. Post residence hall. The "hostage takers" invoked the Prophet Muhammad and mentioned "jihad" as they asked for doughnuts and pastries in exchange for the duck's release.

The students said the video was meant to be a joke, but the college saw it as insensitive and stripped the students of their residence hall jobs.

The students apologized but also sued and demanded their jobs back.

Local Muslim leaders initially criticized the video, but the Islamic Center of Long Island helped ultimately helped resolve the dispute, Brewington and Shenker said.

After talking with the students, Islamic Center officials concluded that the students did not intend "the consequences of their actions," Islamic Center President Habeem Ahmed wrote in a Feb. 14 letter to Shenker.