Groups Step Up Opposition to Punishment for UC Irvine's Muslim Student Union

Meant to get this up yesterday, but a group that protects the legal rights of Asians and Pacific Islanders sent word that it has joined 14 other civil rights organizations and professional bar associations from across the nation in condemning the recommended suspension of UC Irvine's Muslim Student Union.


"The punishments being considered by UCI are unparalleled in their severity," Asian Law Caucus attorney Veena Dubal says in the statement.


"Student protesters have a long history of disrupting speeches, but we have not seen this type of severe sanction against other groups. The disparate treatment sends the message that UCI selectively censures particular political views, and this is unacceptable."


The full Asian Law Caucus statement follows:

Asian Law Caucus Condemns UC Irvine's Recommended Suspension of the University's Muslim Student Union

San Francisco  -- Today, the Asian Law Caucus, along with 14 other civil rights organizations and professional bar associations from across the nation, including the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Jewish Voice for Peace, sent a letter to Chancellor Michael Drake at the University of California at Irvine ("UCI"), condemning the recommended suspension of the university's Muslim Student Union ("MSU").   UCI is considering suspending the MSU for allegedly coordinating the actions of 10 non-violent student protestors who interrupted the Israeli Ambassadors public speech in February.
 
The fifteen civil rights organizations and professional bar associations maintain that suspending the MSU would deprive hundreds of current and future Muslim students of their First Amendment right to freedom of association.   In their letter to the UCI administration, they also maintain that the recommended ban is unparalleled in its severity, and constitutes selective enforcement.
 
"The punishments being considered by UCI are unparalleled in their severity," said Asian Law Caucus attorney Veena Dubal.  "Student protestors have a long history of disrupting speeches, but we have not seen this type of severe sanction against other groups.  The disparate treatment sends the message that UCI selectively censures particular political views, and this is unacceptable."
 
In their letter, the civil rights organizations and associations also claim that the proposed ban sets a dangerous precedent that affects all groups whose views are opposed by campus officials and influential outside groups.
 
Summer Hararah, national security and civil rights program coordinator at the Asian Law Caucus, stated, "Selectively targeting the MSU sends the message that only certain types of speech will be tolerated at the UCI.  This potential silencing of dissent is extremely troubling at a public university."
 
The letter requests that the administration abandon any punitive measures against the Muslim Student Union and states that banning the group will memorialize UCI as a campus that violates its students' constitutional rights.  Signatories to the letter include the following organizations: Asian Law Caucus, Afghan-American Bar Association, American Muslims for Palestine, Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Center for Constitutional Rights, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Council on American-Islamic Relations - California, Jewish Voice for Peace, Muslim Bar Association of Southern California, Muslim Legal Fund of America, National Lawyers Guild, Sikh Coalition, South Asian Americans Leading Together, South Asian Bar Association - Northern California.              

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ASIAN LAW CAUCUS (ALC) - The mission of the Asian Law Caucus is to promote, advance, and represent the legal and civil rights of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, the Asian Law Caucus is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income and Asian and Pacific Islanders. Visit: asianlawcaucus.org


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