US Muslim Students Guilty in Free-Speech Case

10 at UC Irvine convicted of disrupting Israeli ambassador's talk

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 23, 2011 6:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Ten Muslim students at UC Irvine have been convicted of misdemeanor counts of disrupting a speech on campus by the Israeli ambassador to the US, reports the Los Angeles Times. They will get probation and community service in the case, which featured freedom-of-speech arguments by both prosecutors and the defense. They also were convicted of conspiring to disrupt the speech ahead of time in emails and meetings. The students took turns standing and shouting things like, "Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech," as Michael Oren tried to speak last year, notes the Huffington Post.

The defense argued that the so-called "Irvine 11"—charges against one student were later dismissed—had a right to protest and that a guilty verdict would stifle free speech on US campuses. But prosecutors said it was the students who were blocking Oren's freedom of speech. "Absolutely unbelievable," says a local Islamic leader. "I believe the heart of America has died today. This is clearly an indication that Muslims are permanent foreigners, at least in Orange County." A leader of a Jewish group countered that the protest "crossed the moral, social and intellectual line of civility and tolerance." Click for more.

Four students, from left, Taher Herzallah, Mohammad Qureashi, Aslam Traina, and Mohamad Abdelgany pray outside court after being convicted.
Four students, from left, Taher Herzallah, Mohammad Qureashi, Aslam Traina, and Mohamad Abdelgany pray outside court after being convicted.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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