UC Irvine officials on Monday confirmed that they've moved to suspend the Muslim Student Union for one year for disrupting an on-campus speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Feb. 8 despite warnings from the school that such misbehavior would lead to sanctions. An attorney for the group called the move a violation of its free-speech rights. The suspension remained on hold as the student organization appealed the decision.
"I think it's unfair, unwarranted and really jeopardizes their First Amendment rights ... I'm
hopeful the university will not sustain this recommendation," said MSU attorney Reem Salahi.
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Incoming MSU President Asaad Traina issued this statement on the student group's website: "Suspending the MSU would undoubtedly create a chilling effect and deprive Muslim students -- both current and incoming -- of a place where they can develop a sense of community with one another and with the broader UCI campus community. Depriving Muslim students a venue to associate jeopardizes their rights under the First Amendment and is an act of marginalization at a time when Muslim students and Muslim youth already feel besieged."
Eleven students, including the MSU's president, were arrested after they disrupted the Israeli Ambassador's speech. The Jewish Federation of Orange County was happy with the school's action.
"The university's disciplinary action regarding the MSU establishes an important and appropriate precedent and sends a powerful message to other universities across the nation,'' said Shalom Elcott, president and chief executive of the federation.
-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us.