Sep 30 2011

Uprising EXCLUSIVE: Two Members of ‘Irvine 11’ Share Their Story

Feature Stories | Published 30 Sep 2011, 10:08 am | Comments Off on Uprising EXCLUSIVE: Two Members of ‘Irvine 11’ Share Their Story -

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Click “listen to this segment” to hear an extended interview with the Irvine 11 students.

An Orange County jury on Friday September 23rd found ten of the so-called Irvine 11 students guilty of disrupting a public meeting and conspiring to disrupt a public meeting. The misdemeanor charges were brought over their actions during a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on the campus of UC Irvine in 2010. Members of the Muslim Student Union stood up one after another during the speech, interrupting Ambassador Oren from speaking, and walked out, to be arrested. UC Irvine’s administration disciplined the Muslim Student Union by suspending its charter for one quarter and placing it on probation for 2 years even though they maintains that they, as a group, did not organize the action. However Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas picked up the case as a criminal matter, charging the individual students with conspiring to commit a crime and for disturbing a meeting. The case attracted national attention and many people, including some who disagree with the students’ tactics, say the DA and the jury violated the students’ right to freedom of speech. However, UC Irvine’s Law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who specializes in Constitutional Law and has even represented detainees held at Guantanamo, said in a recent LA Times Op-Ed, “[f]reedom of speech, on campuses and elsewhere, is rendered meaningless if speakers can be shouted down by those who disagree,” and that “those who yelled to keep the ambassador from being heard were not engaged in constitutionally protected behavior.” However, another UCI Professor, Rei Tereda, who has taught courses on the customs and practices of campus protests, said that the moderators of Oren’s speech did not have the authority to lay out ground rules for politeness and decorum at the outset of the event and that the students method of protest was a common one. The case of the Irvine 11 has been seen as a test of how far students can go in their on-campus protest actions, and also of racial and religious discrimination faced by Muslim students on campuses. The ten UC Irvine students faced up to a year in prison, but ended up being sentenced to 56 hours of community service, fines, and probation.

GUESTS: Osama Shabaik and Taher Herzallah, two of the Irvine 11

Watch a video of their interview here.

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