A university atheist society which sparked a global debate over the publication of a cartoon depicting Jesus and Muhammad on a webpage has declared a victory for freedom of speech after its student union backed away from a demand that the cartoon be removed.

The University College London's Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society garnered high-profile support from the secularist Richard Dawkins after it refused the student union's request to remove an image of Jesus and Muhammad sharing a pint from a Facebook page advertising a social event.

A spokesman for University College London's student union said the request to remove the cartoon remained in place, but that decisions regarding advertising for events remained at the discretion of individual societies. "Society presidents take responsibility for their own publicity, and it is not vetted by UCLU prior to distribution," the union said. "They are provided with equality training prior to running a society, to help them understand the balance between freedom of expression and cultural sensitivity."

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