11 Muslim Students Charged with Conspiring to Disrupt Israeli Ambassador’s Speech

Eleven California students have been charged with conspiring to disrupt a meeting and speech by the Israeli ambassador to the US at the University of California, Irvine, last February. The students all attend UC campuses and are all members of the Muslim Student Union. After the incident, the students were suspended for a quarter and many in the university thought this sufficient; the case has fueled debates about free speech on college campuses.

According to the February 5 Los Angeles Times, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas has stated that the misdemeanor criminal charges were filed against the students because the students made an ‘”organized attempt to squelch the speaker”‘ and that that they ‘”meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting.”‘ As the Los Angeles Times quotes Rackauckas:

“We must decide whether we are a country of laws or a country of anarchy….We cannot tolerate a preplanned violation of the law, even if the crime takes place on a school campus and even if the defendants are college students. In our democratic society, we cannot tolerate a deliberate, organized, repetitive and collective effort to significantly disrupt a speaker who hundreds assembled to hear.”

The New York Times describes the February 8, 2010, incident:

When the ambassador, Michael B. Oren, came to speak last February, several students stood up, one at a time, and interrupted him with shouted complaints about Israel. When the repeated outbursts continued deep into Mr. Oren’s speech, the ambassador huddled with his security aides to decide whether to continue speaking. He did, but by the time the speech was over, 11 Muslim students had been arrested.

The students have come to be known as the ‘Irvine 11,’ though three of the students attend the University of California, Riverside.  They have said that the protest was not an activity planned by the Muslim Student Union; nonetheless, an investigation by UC Irvine officials has found that ‘the group had coordinated the protest in an effort to shut down the event.’  Prosecutors contend that students had held meetings and exchanged emails to plan the disruption of Oren’s speech:


Mohamed Mohy-Eldeen Abdelgany, 23, a defendant in the case and the president of the Muslim Student Union at the time, is accused of sending an e-mail Feb. 3 to the organization’s message board announcing: “We will be staging a University of Chicago Style disruption of the Ambassador’s speech.”

Abdelgany is accused of sending an e-mail on Feb. 7 to the same message board advising “nondisruptors” to cheer after each “disruptor” finished.

While ‘similar outbursts have occurred during speeches by Israeli officials on other college campuses,’ the New York Times  says, these have not prompted disciplinary action by either university officials or law enforcement officers. The Los Angeles Times notes that Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine’s law school, has said that ‘he didn’t think criminal charges were warranted and that he hopes the charges can be dealt with simply.’

Jewish and Israeli advocacy groups have said that the Muslism Student Union has ‘fostered a hostile environment on campus,’ with much of the controversy from an annual event sponsored by the Muslim Student Union, Palestinian Awareness Week: ‘In the past, the week has included bloody Israeli flags and speeches delivered under signs that read “Holocaust in the Holy Land” and “Israel — the Fourth Reich.

Muslim students say that they ‘have faced stricter scrutiny from the administration than other student groups and that they, too, face harsh language.’  The New York Times describes one such incident on the UC Irvine campus involving ‘a large poster on campus comparing the Muslim Student Union to Hamas and Hezbollah‘; a similar flyer contained photographs of several students.

100 UC Irvine faculty members have urged Rackauckas to dismiss the charges, but his office has indicated that it will not:

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, Susan Schroeder, said in an interview: “It seems that the basic question is what if we substituted different groups — what if this were the Klu Klux Klan who conspired to silence a speech by Martin Luther King.

The ‘Irvine 11′ will be arraigned on March 11 in Santa Ana and plan to plead not guilty.

Would the students have been charged if they had not been members of the Muslim Student Union?


Photo by Varin Tsai.


nineoneone isalie

To all the Islamaphobic minions...

Jihadwatch another Islamophic site for the Hatemongers/Evangelical Arab haters.

You are all nothing but mere minions for the former Muslim turned Islam-haters; Tawfiq Hamid and Walid Shoebat. You have been brainwashed to become the next extreme terrorists of Hate. It wouldn’t surprise me if your next stage of the Hate Agenda will be to strap on bombs to carry-out your war of Hate.

If I were you (not likely!), you should be careful about what you are preaching and to whom. You are all responsible for your actions and words, and if someone on your behalf carries out those terrible deeds, you will be held responsible.

nineoneone isalie

@ shellycommonpigeon aka Pamela Gellar

You are foul!! Thou smell of mountain goat!!

wooddragon xx
wooddragon xx7 years ago

Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Mara S.
Mara S7 years ago

They tried to SILENCE someone.

Premeditated action.

All that KNOWING that they did have the oportunity to protest - in the same meeting.

It won't fly !

wooddragon xx
wooddragon xx7 years ago

I think we should all stand together to stop Hate against all religions, faiths, race, nationalities and cultures...

To not have respect for another's faith, religion and race just shows how juvenile you are...

Stop the HATE

Peace to you...

wooddragon xx
wooddragon xx7 years ago

We asked you to make visible your support for these students and you did. We in turn amplified your voices, as you can see in the numerous media stories below. What you did is already making a difference.

When Jewish Voice for Peace's Rachel Roberts and Estee Chandler hand-delivered your signatures and messages of support, they were joining others including the Los Angeles Times editorial board, and later, 100 University of California at Irvine faculty members, including 14 Chancellor’s Professors and Distinguished Professors, and the Founding Dean of UCI School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky--- all calling for charges to be dropped. This is in sharp contrast to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the American Jewish Committee which have amazingly supported the criminal charges.

And you can know we will continue to represent you on this issue and speak out on behalf of fairness and the right of anyone to criticize Israeli policy in an open and free democracy.

In gratitude,

Cecilie Surasky
Deputy Director
Jewish Voice for Peace

wooddragon xx
wooddragon xx7 years ago

On February 3, we asked you to sign a petition in support of the right of Muslim students in California to protest Israeli policies without being criminalized, and you did.

On February 10, the Daily Pilot newspaper, a division of the Los Angeles Times, wrote:

The mood among the "Irvine 11" soared Wednesday after members of a liberal Jewish organization delivered more than 5,000 signatures to the Orange County district attorney's office denouncing the charges filed against the students for disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States a year ago Tuesday.

Jacqueline Goodman, the defense attorney for seven of the 11 Muslim Student Union members charged with two misdemeanor counts of planning to and disrupting a public meeting, said her clients are grateful to the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which organized and delivered the signatures, as well as members of the interfaith community who are standing beside them.

"I and the students are over the moon with gratitude for that kind of effort from the Jewish community," Goodman said.
That's right.

Just hours after we launched our campaign, the Orange County district attorney announced he would be filing criminal misdemeanor charges after all. Remarkably, the students have been summoned before a grand jury on March 11 to face charges of conspiracy.


wooddragon xx
wooddragon xx7 years ago

ShellyWhiteDove Schoenroc

I have flagged your hateful, inappropriate comment as it is vulgar and offensive.

Does it not say on your profile:

"To love my fellow man for who they are, not what I want them to be!"

I think Hypocrite comes to mind!!

ShellyWhiteDove Schoenroc

I will tell you what Scott, when you compare the son of God, the GREAT prophet, Jesus Christ to that woman hating, woman oppressing, pedophile who had a hard on for a six year old child, I GET offended!
Jesus NEVER had a woman beheaded as her newborn nursed from her breast. Jesus didnt command FGM!
Spare me with your long winded CUT AND PASTE retorhic for this CULT hell bent on world domination.

Stephen Greg
Jason T7 years ago

Lee Smith

I long for the day when European colonists hadn't yet invaded North America and trashed it's natural environment and the Native Americans, but I guess we both have to accept the current situation for what it is.

And I think it goes without saying the students are here legally, you're just coming off as racist by suggesting otherwise.