The Irvine 11 are students at U.C. Irvine who repeatedly interrupted a speech by the Israel ambassador on Feb. 8, 2010. He couldn’t speak until the protesters were removed.
Ten Muslim students found guilty of conspiring to disrupt -– and then disrupting –- a speech at UC Irvine by Israel’s ambassador were sentenced Friday afternoon to three years informal probation. They will not serve any jail time.
The verdict was an emotional end to the so-called Irvine 11 case, which generated national debate over free speech.
“Absolutely unbelievable. I believe the heart of America has died today,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. “This is clearly an indication that Muslims are permanent foreigners, at least in Orange County.”
Jewish community leaders lauded the guilty verdicts.
The planned disruption “crossed the moral, social and intellectual line of civility and tolerance,” said Shalom C. Elcott, president and chief executive of the local Jewish Federation & Family Services. “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 we ever, support ‘hate speech.’ ”
Outside the court, the mother of Khalid Bahgat Akari, one of the 10, said the verdict shocked her. Lina Akari, 45, of Murrieta, said she had trusted the U.S. court system and had raised her son to relish the right to free speech.
On his radio show today, Dennis Prager said: “There’s a radical left-wing and radical Muslim organization at U.C. Irvine.”
“They were screaming that Israel is a genocidal state. I expect left-wing groups to say it is perfectly OK to disrupt a speaker and not allow someone to speak. Why do left-wing groups support these students?
“What is depressing is how every normative Muslim group has come out on behalf of the students. It’s religion over values. Because they are in the same religion as me, they can do no wrong.”
“You relish the right of free speech by shutting down another speaker. Suppose a Muslim came to speak at UC Irvine and students came in played whistles or a siren or the Dennis Prager show at high volume. Would that be allowed?”