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One Imagination empowers the current and next generation of leaders through written and oral expression. As a collective based in the Long Beach/South Bay area, we believe that through conscious artistic programming, community education and outreach, and leadership development, we can cultivate a world free of hatred, ignorance, injustice, inequality, and oppression.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

UC Irvine Bans Muslim Student Union

I heard about this on KPFK 90.7FM while listening to Democracy Now! this morning. This is what was reported:

UC Irvine Bans Muslim Student Union
In news from California, officials at the University of California, Irvine, have banned the Muslim Student Union for one year and placed the organization on disciplinary probation for an additional year. In February, members of the group disrupted a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. Victor Sanchez, president of the University of California Student Association, said he was outraged by the ban. Sanchez said, "It’s almost impossible not to interpret this as a means of the university to silence dissent."

Below is a press release by UC San Diego's Students for Justice in Palestine condemning the disciplinary action taken against the UCI 11 and the Muslim Student Union:

UCSD SJP Condemns Disciplinary Action Taken Against UCI 11


Contact: Meryem Kamil mkamil@ucsd.edu
Students for Justice in Palestine, UC San Diego

14 June 2010, La Jolla- The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCSD condemns the silencing of free speech at University of California, Irvine (UCI). A disciplinary board recently suspended eleven students who had protested the presence of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren on their campus and for his support of Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people. The Associated Students at UCSD had unanimously passed a resolution in full support of the UCI 11, and also called for the dropping of all academic charges against the protesters.

The collective punishment against the Palestinian people committed by Israel's right-wing Likud-government, along violations of over 65 UN resolutions, have already led to a mass condemnation from the international community. The Gaza blockade has been called inhumane and illegal by the Red Cross, the European Union, Amnesty International, and the International Court of Justice. Recently, Israeli soldiers boarded a humanitarian fleet in protected waters (under International Maritime Law), and needlessly injured and killed many of those on board. As spokesperson for the Gaza Massacre, codenamed Operation Cast Lead, Michael Oren is a representative of these actions. He is a representative of a government that defends actions the international community condemns.

Free speech is a tenet of American society. At a recent speech punctuated by the shouts of anti-abortion demonstrators, President Obama defended the rights of those protesting: "Some people got organized to do that. That's part of the American tradition we are proud of. And that's hard too, standing in the midst of people who disagree with you and letting your voice be heard." The students who exercised their right to free speech in Irvine did not commit any illegal action. Rather, they took part in a peaceful action reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr., of the 1986 Olympics, and of the Little Rock Nine.

Many of the UCI 11 are of Palestinian descent. Two of the students had multiple family members killed in last year's Israeli bombing of Gaza. To question their right to protest as American citizens is dangerous constitutionally, and to question the validity of their struggle is a demonstration of the lack of diverse narratives taught in our California universities.

The actions taken against the eleven students comes in conjunction with a recommendation to suspend the Muslim Student Union (MSU) at UCI. The organization, which represents a significant population at the Irvine campus, puts on a wide variety events that work towards building global humanitarian efforts, supporting a diverse and vibrant campus life, and providing forums for UCI students' campus involvement. Silencing an entire sector of the student population denies Muslim students their right to assemble as a legitimate and recognized organization and removes a key voice from the UCI community.

SJP UCSD calls for the immediate reversal of disciplinary actions taken against the UCI 11 and MSU. Furthermore, we demand that UCI, UCSD, and the California educational system re-examine its policy regarding bias, racism, and discrimination on campus. We put our full support behind the UCI 11, MSU, and all those affected.

I wonder if a pro-Israeli student group had taken similar action with a Palestinian speaker, if they would have faced such harsh consequences and infringement of their rights to dissent... thoughts?