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The Irvine 11: Guilty of Being Muslims in America
The Irvine 11: Guilty of Being Muslims in America - by Stephen Lendman
Post-9/11, America targeted Muslims ruthlessly for political advantage. Law-abiding citizens discovered they're living here at the wrong time.
Police state repression endangers growing millions, including Muslims for their faith, ethnicity, and forthrightness to confront injustice no one should tolerate.
Many lawlessly prosecuted stand out, including the Irvine 11. They were wrongfully targeted for exercising their fundamental First Amendment right without which all others are threatened.
Charges against one were dismissed. The others stood trial, accused of interrupting Israeli ambassador Michael Oren's February 8, 2010 University of California-Irvine speech, criticizing him and Israeli injustice.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed misdemeanor criminal charges, accusing them of disturbing a public meeting and engaging in a conspiracy to do so.
During Oren's UCI speech, students rose one at a time to interrupt. It's everyone's constitutional right, except when Israeli lawlessness is challenged, especially by American Muslims called criminals for defending right over wrong.
UCI suspended the Muslim Student Union, placing it on disciplinary probation. Imagine the outcry if done to B'nai B'rith. University officials would be fired. Prosecutors would be replaced. Jews and Christians can get away with anything. Muslims are vilified for demanding justice.
On September 24, Los Angeles Times writers Lauren Williams, Nicole Santa Cruz and Mike Anton headlined, "Students guilty of disrupting speech in 'Irvine 11' case," saying:
"....(A)n Orange County jury has found 10 Muslim students guilty of criminal charges for disrupting (Oren's) speech....on the UC Irvine campus last year."
Facing up to one year in jail on multiple misdemeanor charges, they "were sentenced to three years of probation, 56 hours of community service and fines. Each was convicted of one misdemeanor count of conspiring to disrupt Oren's Feb. 8, 2010 speech and a second count for disrupting it."
Pro-Israeli District Attorney Rackauckas called their behavior "thuggery." "In a civilized society, we cannot allow lawful assemblies to be shut down by a small group of people using the heckler's veto."
It's OK, however, for Israel to occupy Palestine illegally, persecute its people, attack them lawlessly, imprison them en masse for demanding their rights, torture them to confess to crimes they didn't commit, steal their land, and wage war against defenseless civilians.
It's also OK for America to supply billions of dollars in aid, the latest weapons and technology, and full support for Israel's worst crimes. Only victims are held accountable for wanting to live free in peace. Only supporters are vilified and prosecuted for courageously supporting what's right.
On September 24, a Los Angeles Times editorial headlined, "Punishing the 'Irvine 11,' again," saying:
The students were convicted "in a case that never should have been filed...." As a result, they'll "forever have to answer yes if they are asked by, say, potential employers whether they were ever convicted of a crime."
"The whole sad affair (should have been) handled more appropriately by university officials" instead of letting it end up a judicial lynching.
Islamic Shura Council of Southern California Executive Director Shakeel Syed reacted, calling the verdict "absolutely unbelievable. I believe the heart of America has died today. This is clearly an indication that Muslims are permanent foreigners, at least in Orange County."
In fact, they've victimized in large and small communities across America.
Attorneys for the students vowed to appeal.
Jewish leaders applauded the verdict. According to Shalom Elcott, Jewish Federation & Family Services president:
The student disruption "crossed the moral, social and intellectual line of civility and tolerance. While we accept the right and requirement of a public institution to provide an unfettered forum for diverse points of view, we do not, nor will be ever, support 'hate speech.' "
In other words, free, honest, accurate comments are hateful when Muslims state them. Jews and Christians can say what they please.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles (CAIR/LA) headlined, "Muslim Groups Appalled by 'Irvine 11' Guilty Verdict, Declare Travesty of Justice," saying:
"Leaders of four prominent Muslim organizations" expressed outrage over an appalling verdict, "convicting 10 of the 'Irvine 11' students on (unjust) misdemeanor counts...."
Muslim Public Affairs Council President Salam Al-Marayati called it a "sad day for democracy when nonviolent protestors are criminalized by their government and are found guilty for exercising a constitutional right."
"You can heckle the President. You can heckle high ranking government officials, but it you heckle an Israeli diplomat you will be prosecuted."
Quoted above, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California Executive Director Shakeel Syed also said:
"Justice was jaundiced (for the) UCI-11 students and America must worry for its democratic future."
CAIR/LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said:
"When history books are written, the 'Irvine 11' will stand alongside other great American civil rights heros like Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. They peacefully and courageously stood up against injustice, and they defended our collective freedom of speech."
"No topic should be off limits and no public official or country should be above criticism. They are true American heros."
Muslim American Society, Greater Los Angeles President Khaled Bahjri added:
"It is with the deepest disappointment and sadness that we heard the jury's verdict on the Irvine 11. The jury decided that the 10 defendants are guilty on both counts. This is a huge step backward for our American principles of freedom and justice."
In fact, democracy in America always existed tenuously at best. For Native Americans and people of color it never existed. Post-9/11, it died! Ask persecuted Blacks and Latino immigrants.
Ask American Muslims. They'll explain more eloquently than our best and brightest!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.