Muslim Groups Denounce Recommendation to Suspend UCI MSU
Los Angeles, CA: Three leading Muslim organizations - the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California - have denounced the University of California Irvine's unprecedented and heavy-handed recommendation to suspend the Muslim Student Union (MSU) at that university for one year.
The Muslim Student Union has appealed the decision.
The recommendation follows a Feb. 8 event, in which seven UCI students were arrested after they verbally protested during a speech delivered by the Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren. The students and their attorney dispute the allegation that the MSU sponsored the students' actions because the students acted in their individual capacity.
The recommendation, made by UCI Senior Executive Director of Student Housing Lisa Cornish, was meant to be confidential, but was released last week through a California Public Records Act request made by an off-campus group, Jewish Federation Orange County, and also shared with UC President Mark Yudof, according to news reports.
SEE: UCI Committee Recommends Suspending Muslim Student Group
According to the attorney for the MSU, Reem Salahi, the recommendation raises further questions about the fairness and impartiality of the administrative review process given the support for the recommendation by the university spokespersons, off-campus organizations, and Law School Dean Erwin Chemirinsky, even prior to any final determination. Additionally, President Yudof has urged strong action against the " Irvine 11."
SEE: OC Community Leaders Visit Mark Yudof
SEE: Unfairly Throwing the Book at the 'Irvine 11'
"Irrespective of the MSU's role in sponsoring or organizing the protests against Israeli Ambassador Oren, the University's heavy-handed recommendation only serves to stifle Muslim students' free speech and prevent legitimate criticism of human rights violations and other injustices," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area.
"Suspending the MSU is counterproductive, since it would severely stifle Muslim student life on campus not only for current students but also for incoming students," said Salam Al-Marayati, President of MPAC. "We look now to UCI's leadership to reach a constructive conclusion on this case that preserves the MSU's many positive contributions to campus life, and inoculates student life on campus from outside influences and entities."
"Banning a student group based on the actions of a few individuals is unprecedented, and would send the wrong message to university campuses all across the country who seek to create space for free speech and dissent," said Dr. Maher Hathout, Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. "The MSU performs multifaceted and diverse activities that cater to the spiritual, social and educational needs of Muslim students, which are needed now more than ever."