The University of California-Irvine is a sprawling campus in Orange County. The institution, located between the Santa Ana Mountains and the shore of the Pacific Ocean, is not only home to some of the best minds in science and engineering, but also to some of the most virulent supporters of radical Islam in America — and a school administration bent on capitulating to them.
The university’s Muslim Student Union (MSU) holds several annual events, at which members unashamedly voice support for terrorist groups and denounce Israel, America, and the Western world. Past events hosted during the group’s annual anti-Israel week have had titles such as “Hamas: the People’s Choice” and “Israel: The 4th Reich.” Speakers have included Norman Finkelstein, Ward Churchill, and Anna Balzter.
This year, from May 7-15, the MSU hosted a series of programs entitled “Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust.” As they have done in the past, the MSU appropriated ideas of genocide in order to promote their radical ideology.
The featured speaker last Thursday, May 15, was Amir Abdel Malik-Ali, a radical imam from Oakland who is all too familiar to UCI students. Malik-Ali frequently engages in anti-Western rhetoric and is a vocal supporter of terrorist groups. Not only has he praised Hamas, Hezbollah, and the mujahadeen in Afghanistan as “Islamic resistance” movements struggling against Western “oppressors,” he has called any scrutiny of these terror groups mere “propaganda.” Following Ali’s speeches to UCI’s MSU, the audiences of keffiyah-wearing Muslim students always repetitively recite the battle cry “Takbir! Allahu Akbar!” This year’s audience was no different.
While his rhetoric is lurid and apocalyptic, Malik-Ali’s speech is protected under the First Amendment. What’s alarming is the administration’s willingness to enforce the MSU’s prerogatives on other students who attend their events — hence the application of Sharia law where the Bill of Rights is applicable. For example, while videotaping Malik-Ali’s speech, we were confronted by a school administrator. Dean of Student Services Sally Peterson told us that, on behalf of the male students, we would have to stop filming the female activists, or as she called them “the sisters.” Aware of our rights, we refused her orders and continued covering the event.
As we continued our coverage of the festivities, members of the MSU ultimately decided to enforce what appears to be their own principle of just retribution. After Thursday’s event, the MSU walked up and down the main campus road chanting anti-Israel slogans and blocking off the entire walkway for several minutes while police and administrators stood by idly.
A male individual, who was filming the hateful procession, had at least three Muslim males charge at him for daring to film as the females from the group walked past. One of the males, a student named Yasser Ahmed who purportedly threw a cinderblock at an FBI vehicle last year, said to the cameraman: “You wanna get jacked! We can go get jacked right now! C’mon Emanuel, we’ve learned a lot about you let’s go! Lets go get jacked, Lets go get jacked!”
The UCI police department treated this incident unprofessionally and took no action. The student journalist gave his statement to a UCI police officer and explained how he was assaulted. The officer then went to take statements from the males MSU members. The police would not, however, take statements from those who witnessed the assault against the student journalist. After the police officer took statements, he told the student journalist that one of the males who charged at him had apologized and that nothing more could be done.
A Christian preacher on campus, Michael Venyah, also had his rights violated last Thursday. This preacher, who believes that all people must accept Jesus in order to get into heaven, began preaching about the prophet Mohammad and his crimes. Evidently, MSU members didn’t like hearing what he had to say and opted for charging and running into him. This was clearly an incident of assault. The cops present did nothing, and Dean of Judicial Affairs Edgar Dormitorio suggested that Mr. Venyah should leave.
Another case of MSU’s vigilantism occurred when a young Jewish female was followed back to her car and surrounded by six members of the MSU. A community member who witnessed the harassment also had her civil rights violated when the Muslim students noticed her. As UC Irvine police offers stood idly by, the Muslim students proceeded to situate themselves on the hood of her car in order to photograph her face, her vehicle identification number, and her license plate. When she later called the police department for answers, they justified the criminal behavior as the culmination of a tit for tat ethnic squabble. Put simply, they justified the need for Muslim students to “vent,” as they were just getting back at the Jews.
One group at UC Irvine has monopolized freedom of speech and expression. MSU organizers have taken it upon themselves to restrict the freedoms of others on the university campus and have managed to avoid significant criticism from the administration. Conversely, those who voice concern over MSU’s actions are depicted as stirring up trouble.
UCI administrators have not been helpful. Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl of UC Berkeley signed a letter, published in the New York Times, warning against anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish activity on campus. UC Irvine’s then-chancellor, Ralph Cicerone, refused to sign this letter. The current chancellor at UCI has called hate speech “repugnant,” but has refused to specify which group was responsible for hate speech and has been unable to ensure a safe environment during the hateful events hosted by the MSU.
The administration at UC Irvine has sent a clear message to the MSU: incitement and harassment against Jews, Israel, and America is acceptable on campus and will not incur consequences.
Jonathan Constantine Movroydis, a senior at UCI, is a staff writer for RedCounty.com. Reut Cohen recently graduated from UCI, where she ran a blog to document the ‘anti-Israel,’ anti-Semitic and anti-American incidents on campus.