Sign a letter in Support of Free Speech and Against Islamophobia


Stand for free speech and against Islamophobia

by signing your name in support of the

University of California Irvine’s Muslim Student Union.


 

Background:

For years, Orange County Zionist Jewish organizations have been using false charges of anti-Semitism to try to silence the Muslim Student Union (MSU) for its Palestine solidarity activities. These groups have now convinced the UC Irvine Administration that MSU does not have a right to exist as a campus organization.  Electronic Intifada summarizes the events of the past academic year: "In response to intense political pressure by multiple pro-Zionist organizations, administrators at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have recommended the suspension of Muslim students’ right to assemble and practice their faith together on campus. Alleging that emails anonymously "leaked" to the university prove that the Muslim Student Union was responsible for a protest of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s campus appearance by eight UCI students, the administration plans to suspend the more than 250-member Muslim Student Union for a year beginning in September, and place it under intense scrutiny and disciplinary probation if the student group is allowed to re-apply for recognition in the fall of 2011. The student group is appealing this proposed ban, contending that the MSU did not sponsor the protest, and that the students arrested for interrupting Oren’s speech were acting as individuals. Members have also challenged UCI’s moves to impose what their attorney Reem Salahi has described as "nothing but collective punishment" by proposing to suspend the entire group over a political protest. The ban would become official after a final university decision, pending the outcome of a hearing and if the student group’s appeal fails." (Read the rest of the article at: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11374.shtml)

As people of conscience committed to freedom and equality, we must speak out when the rights of any group are denied on grounds of racism or religious bigotry.  As Jews, our understanding of histories of anti-Jewish persecution inspires our stance against all forms of racism and religious bigotry. As Jews committed to justice in Palestine/Israel, we are outraged when false charge of anti-Semitism are used to silence those that criticize the State violence of Israel.

Click here to add your signature to the letter below calling upon the UC Irvine administration to protect the right of MSU to keep its chartered status like all other religious organizations on campus. In doing so we insist on the right of students to free speech and to practice their religion. We ask you to stand with the Muslim Student Union because:

  • This suspension is an act of racial targeting and religious bigotry imposed on hundreds of Muslim students.
  • It is a denial of the right to free speech and the use of non-violent protest to secure the rights of those being denied them. Universities have been the bastions of protecting freedom of speech and civil rights, such an act goes against the very nature and purpose of public universities and against the first amendment rights protected by the constitution of the United States.  The decision to punish the Muslim Student Union goes against the democratic principles by which institutions of higher education must abide.
  • The attacks on the Muslim Student Union by college administrators and community leaders are inspired by, and perpetuate, a climate of racial and religious prejudice and intolerance such as the call from a Florida church to "burn the Koran" on September 11th and the prejudice of the Anti-Defamation Leagues attempt to prevent the opening of a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan.

Thank you for standing for the democratic rights of all people and against bigotry of all forms,

The Campus Organizing Workgroup of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (www.ijsn.net)

Click here to sign the letter!

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LETTER:

 

August 2010

To the Office of Student Conduct of UC Irvine, the UC Irvine Administration, and members of the UC Irvine Campus Community,

We are Jewish students, academics, teachers, and activists writing to oppose the recommendation, issued this past June, to suspend the UC Irvine Muslim Student Union.

We urge the UC Irvine administration to hear the appeal of the Muslim Student Union and to not proceed in revoking the organization’s charter for one year. We stand with the Muslim Student Union because:

We are outraged at this threat, which is a racist attack, a form of religious bigotry, and an infringement of students’ rights to free speech and free expression.

  • The students who were arrested and now face punitive measures were exercising their right to speak freely. These students staged a legitimate protest against the public appearance of Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the US, at a public, university-sponsored event. This event gave an open podium to a representative of the State of Israel just a year after the Israeli assault on Gaza that left over 1,400 dead, including over 300 Palestinian children. The students who protested engaged in the noble and ethical act of non-violent participation in democratic society.
  • Suspension of the Muslim Student Union means the repression and targeting of hundreds of students based on their religion. The overwhelming majority of students in the Muslim Student Union had nothing to do with the protests in question; those who did protest simply exercised their individual right to organize and speak freely at a public institution of higher education.
  • We see this as part of a disturbing trend in the US and beyond, of widespread Islamophobia and racism, which includes Zionist and right-wing organizations’ increasingly aggressive attempts to attack and silence Muslim voices. We are aware of the great pressure that Orange County Zionist Jewish organizations put on the school to recommend the suspension and their efforts to smear MSU with false charges of anti-Semitism. As Jews committed to dignity for all people, we assert that organizing for justice in Palestine is not anti-Jewish; it is an expression of our collective humanity. Furthermore, we take anti-Jewish sentiment seriously and resent it being misused for an agenda to shut down criticism of Israel.
  • Suspension of the MSU will do nothing to further justice, peace, freedom or equality; on the contrary, denying Muslim students their right to free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, is an act in opposition to core democratic values and ultimately the security of all of our civil rights.

We call on the UC Irvine administration to uphold students’ rights to free speech and to protect the right of the MSU to keep its chartered status like all other religious organizations on campus. We call on all individuals of conscience and organizations for justice to support the Muslim Student Union in its appeal against the pending suspension.

Signed,

 

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Click here to sign the letter!

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